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The Story of Constantinople 

"The 3V[edmval Towns Series 

ASSIST. By Lina Duff Gordon. [6th Edition. 

AVIGNON. By Thomas Okey. 

BRUGES. By Ernest Gilliat-Smith. [5/A Edition. 

BRUSSELS. By E. Gilliat-Smith. 

CAIRO. By Stanley Lake-Poole. [^rd Edition. 

CAMBRIDGE. By C. W. Stubbs, D.D. {^rd Edition. 

CANTERBURY. By G. R. Stirling Taylor. 

CHARTRES. By Cecil Headlam, M.A. [2nd Edition. 

CONSTANTINOPLE. By W. H. Hutton. [^th Edition. 

COVENTRY. By Mary Dormer Harris. 

DUBLIN. By D. A. Chart, M.A. 

EDINBURGH. By O. Smeaton, M.A. 

FERRARA. By Ella Noyes. 

FLORENCE. By Edmund G. Gardner, M.A. 

[loth Edition. 

JERUSALEM. By CoJ. Sir C. M. V^atson, K.C.M.G., 
C.B. [2nd Edition. 

LONDON. By H. B. VVheatley. [yd Edition. 

LUCCA. Written by Janet Ross and Nelly Erich- 
se.v, and Illustrated by Nelly Erichsen. 

MILAN, By Ella Noyes. 

MOSCOW. By Wirt Gerrare. [yd Edition. 

NUREMBERG. By Cecil Headlam, M.A. 

[6ih Edition. 

OXFORD. By Cecil Headlam, M.A. [yd Edition. 

PADUA. By C. Foligno. 

PARIS. By Thomas Oxey. [4/A Edition. 

PERUGIA. By Margaret Symonds and Lina Duff 
Gordon. [yth Edition. 

PISA. By Janet Ross. Illustrated by Nelly Erich- 

PRAGUE. By Count LCtzow. [yd Edition. 

ROME. By Norwood Young. [7th Edition. 

ROUEN. By Theodore A. Coor. [^th Edition. 

SEVILLE. By W. M. Gallichan. [2nd Edition. 

SIENA. By Edmund G. Gardner, M.A. [\th Edition. 

TOLEDO. By Hannah Lynch. [yd Edition. 

VENICE. By Thomas Okey. [\th Edition. 

VERONA. By Alethea Wiel. [yd Edition. 

Showing the Sultan's pew and the stairs to the pulpit. 


The Story of the old Capital 
of the Empire hy William 

Ho I den Hut ton, Dean of 

TVinchester ^ ^ * ^ 
Illustrated by Sydney Cooper 

London .y. M. Dent ^ SonsLtd. 

Aldine House ^ lo-ij Bedford Street 
Covent Garden^ W,C. » ^ 1921 

Of the earth's mistress, as thou rainly speakest, 
Stands 'midst these ages as, on the wide ocean, 
The last spared fragment of a spacious land. 
That in some grand and awful ministration 
Of mighty nature has engulfed been, 
Doth lift aloft its dark and rocky cliffs 
O'er the wild waste around, and sadly frowns 
In lonely majesty. 

Sir Walter Scott, Count Robert of Far u. 

/^ S / 2 

I wa^ the daughter of Imperial Rome, 
Crowned by her Empress of the mystic east: 
Most Holy Wisdom chose me for her home 
Sealed me Truth's regent, and High Beauty's priest. 
Lo ! when fate struck with hideous flame and sword, 
Far o'er the new world's life my grace was poured. 

Selwyn Image, Beauty s Axuakening. 

First Edition, igpo 
Reprinted^ 1904, 1909, 1914, 192 1 

All rights reserved 


A WORD of introduction is necessary to explain the 
nature of this sketch of the history of Constanti- 
nople. It is the holiday-task, very pleasant to him, of 
a College don, to whom there is no city in the world 
so impressive and so fascinating as the ancient home of 
the Caesars of the East. 

It is not intended to supersede the indispensable 
Murray. For a city so great, in which there is so 
much to see, a guide-book full of practical details is 
absolutely necessary. For this I can refer the reader, 
with entire confidence, to Murray's Hand-book — and 
to nothing else. But I think everyone who visits Con- 
stantinople feels the need of some sketch of its long 
and wonderful history. I have myself often felt the 
need as I wandered about the city, or spent a long 
evening, during the cold spring, in the hotel. I have 
endeavoured, as best I could, to supply what I have 
myself wanted. I do not pretend to have written a 
history of the city "from the earliest times to the 
present day " from the mass of original authorities 
of which I know something. I have used the 
works of the best modern writers freely, and I 
should like here, once for all, to express my obliga- 
tions. I may venture to say that the list of books 
I here insert will be found useful by anyone who 
wishes to go further into the history than my little 
book is able to take him. The ordinary standard 
books are Professor Bury's edition of Gibbon ; Mr 
Tozer*8 edition of Finlay's History of Greece, Pro- 


fessor Bury*6 History of the Later Empire ; Voti 
Hammer's History of the Turks ; and the Vicomte 
de la Jonqui^re's sketch of the same subject. 

The authorities, in detail, for the history and 
topography of the city are admirably summed up 
in Herr Eugen Oberhummer's contribution to the 
Pauly-Wissowas Realencyclopadie der classischen Alter- 
tumsiv'issenschajt^ band iv., which can be purchased 
separately as a " Sonder-Abdruck." Among the 
books which I have found especially useful I must 
mention first Professor van Millingen*s By%antine 
Constantinople^ "The Walls, etc.; the Broken Bits of 
Byzantium, by Mrs Walker and the late Rev. C. 
G. Curtis, to whose kindness I owe very much, a 
book which is now very rarely to be met with, and 
ought certainly to be republished ; Bayet, U Art 
By%antin ; Kraus, Geschichte der Christlichen Kunst ; 
Lethaby and Swainson, S. Sophia ; Grosvenor, Con- 
stantinople ; Paspates, The Great Palace of Constanti- 
nople, Among histories of particular periods there 
are none more useful than Pears' Conquest of Con- 
stantinople, and Mijatovich, Constantine the last Emperor 
of the Greeks, Among a mass of interesting and im- 
portant articles I should like to note that on Les Debuts 
du Monachisme a Constantinople, by M. Pargoire in the 
Revue des questions historiques, Jan. 1899. 

The texts of the original authorities may be read in 
the Bonn edition, and some of them, happily, in Pro- 
fessor Bury's admirable collection of Byzantine texts, 
of which I have found the three volumes already pub- 
lished most useful. I have referred in Chapter VII. to 
the work of Gyllius, to whom we owe much of our 
knowledge of the mediaeval city. 

I have referred to a great number of books of travel, 
as may be seen ; it is impossible here to particularise 
them all. 


The limits of the series have compelled me to con- 
fine myself chiefly to the story of Constantinople as a 
mediseval town. Thus I have been reluctantly com- 
pelled to leave out much that I should have liked to 
say about Skutari, the Bosphorus and its palaces, 
and the present social life and religious observances, 
the Dervishes, the " Sweet Waters," and many 
familiar names. 

For the same reason, I have dwelt very briefly on 
much that is of great interest. I would gladly, for 
instance, have said more about Iconoclasm, and some- 
thing about that great theologian, S. Theodore of the 

Practically, I may add that the advice of Murray*s 
Guide is always to be taken ; personally I have found 
the Hotel Bristol most comfortable in every way, 
and I have no occasion to commend any other hotel, 
because I have never felt tempted to leave it. I 
have myself found a dragoman, except for the first 
day, unnecessary ; but I can strongly recommend 
Eustathios Livathinos as a most pleasant companion. 
Jacob Moses has also much experience. 

I should add that in my spelling of names I have 
usually adopted, for simplicity, the common use ; but 
I fear I have not even been uniform. 

I owe very much to the kind oifices of Lord Currie 
and of Sir Nicholas O'Conor, Her Majesty's Ambas- 
sadors in 1896 and 1899, and to several members of 
the Embassy, with a very special debt of gratitude 
to Mr Fitzmaurice, C.M.G. I can never forget 
the kindness of the late Canon C. G. Curtis, whose 
death in 1896 was so great a loss to the British 
community in Constantinople, to archaeology, and to 

In several instances photographs taken by my friend, 
Mr J. W. Milligan, who was in Constantinople in 



1896, have been of not a little use to my friend, the 
Rev. Sydney Cooper, to whose illustrations this book 
will owe very much more than half its interest. 


The Great House, Burford, Oxon, 
S, Market Day, 1900. 


I have to thank many reviewers for the exceedingly 
kind way in which my book was spoken of when it 
first appeared. For the new edition I have made 
some necessary corrections, for which I desire especi- 
ally to thank the Rev. F. E. Brightman. Even now 
I fear I shall not satisfy my critics in the matter of 
Turkish orthography ; but I really do not think it 
much matters that I continue to write " Kapou " with 
Professor van Millingen rather than " Kapu *' with Sir 
Charles Wilson. In a matter of more importance, the 
space allotted to the Turkish occupation, I would 
remind my critics that, as I said in 1900, "the 
limits of the series have compelled me to confine 
myself chiefly to the story of Constantinople as a 
mediseval town," and the Turkish conquest con- 
veniently ranks as the end of the Middle Age. If 
I had been writing of modern Constantinople, I should 
have had many other things to say, but I could not 
write them in a ** Mediaeval Towns " series. 

Since I wrote, Mr Pears has admirably retold the 
story oiThe Destruction of the Greek Empire (1903), 
and the publication in the Byzantine Texts, edited 
by Professor Bury, of Ecthesis chronica (Lambros, 
1902), has made the curious condition of the city in 
the years immediately after that event more familiar to 
students. W. H. H. 

BCJRFORO, July 1904* 



When in 1908 I prepared a third edition of this 
book for the press, it seemed that a brighter day might 
dawn for Constantinople, even under the Turks. Writ- 
ing on the Feast of the Epiphany i 9C9, I gave expres- 
sion to a hope which has proved vain. The folly of 
the rulers who have, in rapid succession, controlled the 
policy of the Porte, has led to disaster which only the 
disagreement of Europe has prevented being final. 

Three eminent writers who have written books of 
great value to the student of the City have, in the last 
few years, passed away ; Sir Edwin Pears, Professor 
van Millingen, and the Commendatore G. T. Rivoira, 
each of whom I remember with affectionate respect. 
Sir Edwin, before his death, published a book of most 
valuable reminiscences of his forty years in the city. 
Dr van Millingen, in 1906, wrote a delightful book on 
Constantinople. Signer Rivoira's two books, Origini 
delta Arch'itettura Lombarda (Milan, 1908) and 
Arch'ttettura Musulmana, both translated into English 
by Mr Gordon M'Neil Rushforth, formerly Director 
of the British School at Rome (who gave me kind 
suggestions for my third edition) are of the first value. 
Mr A. E. Henderson published in The Builder y Jan. 6, 
1906, an excellent little study of the Church of S. 
Sergius and S. Bacchus. The Byzantine Research 
Fund in 1912 published a most important study of 
the Church of S. Irene by Mr W^alter S. George, 
with the assistance of Professor van Millingen. 

A more " popular " work, but one of historical 
importance none the less, was that of Mr Henry 
Morgenthau, American Ambassador at Constantinople 
from 1913 to 191 6, published in 1918. 

W. H. H. 
The Deanery, Winchester, 
November, 1 910. 






The History of the City in ancient and mediaval 

timej .....•• I 

Constantinople under the Turks . . • 1 54 

The Churches . • . . . ,231 

The Walls ...... 270 

The Mosques y TUrbehs and Fountains , . 290 

The Palaces . . . . . • 3^0 

Antiquities . . . . . .320 

Additional Note . . . * . '337 

Index . * . . * , '339 



Interior of S, Sophia . . • 

Seraglio Point after Sunset 

Therapia ..... 

The Hippodrome and Mosque of Ahmed 

Yeri Batan Serai (^Cistern) . 

The Imperial Quarter [Plan) 

The Burnt Column 

S. Sophia and the Ministry of Justice from 

Sea . . . • . 

The Golden Gate 
The Golden Horn from Eyub 
The Aqueduct of Valens 
Roumeli Hissar .... 
In the Cemetery at Scutari . 
The Golden Horn from Pera^ ^f^*" Sunset 
Fountain in the Court of Mosque (f Val'ideh 
Interior of Mosque of Ahmed I. 
Houses in the Phanar .... 
Street in Galata ..... 
Capitals from S. Sophia 
Courtyard of the Church of the Studium • 
Plan of SS* Sergius and Bacchus . 
Plan of S. Sophia .... 

In the Gallery of S. Sophia . 
Ornament on the Brazen Lintel above 

Principal Door of S. Sophia . 
Bronze Door of Southern Entrance to 

NartheXf St Sophia 













facing 186 




• 257 

facing 258 

'I able of Emperors 

ConsUntine V. Copronymus 
Leo IV. 

Constantine VI 


Nicephorus I. 


Michael I. Rhangabe . 

Leo v., the Armenian . 

Michael II., the Amorian 

Theophilus . . • 

Michael III. . 

Ba&ii I., the Macedonian 

Leo VI., the Wise 

Constantine VII. Porphyrogenitus 

Co-Emperors — 

Alexander . • • 

Romanus I. Lecapenus 
Constantine VIII. and Stephanus 
Romanus I., reigned five week 
Romanus II. 
Basil II. Bulgaroktonos 
Co-Emperors — 

Nicephorus II. Phocas 
John I. Tzimisces . 
Constantine IX. . 
Constantine IX. 
Romanus III. Argyrus . 
Michael IV., the Paphlagonian 
Michael V. 
Zoe and Theodora 
Constantine X. Monomachus 
Theodora (restored) 
Michael VI. Stratioticus 
Isaac I. Comnenus 
Constantine XI. Ducas 
Michael VII. Ducas . 
Co-Emperor — 

Romanus IV. Diogenes 

sons of 


. 811 


. 944 








. 1042 

. 1042 








Table of Emperors 

Nicephorus III. Botoniate* 



Alexius I. Comnenus 



John II. Comnenus 

, , 

iiiS-i 143 

Manuel I. Comnenus . 


Alexius 11. Comnenus 

, , 

I 180-1183 

Andronicus I, Comnenus 

. . 


Isaac II. Angelus 

1 . . 


Alexius III, Angelus 


1 1 95- 1203 

Isaac II. (restored ) 1 

r ... 
Alexius IV. Angelus j 


Alexius V. Ducas, Murtzuphlus 

. IZ04 

Latin Emperors 

Baldwin I. .... . 


Henry ...... 


Peter ...... 


Robert ...... 


John of Brienni: .... 


Baldwin II. .... . 


Nicsan Emperors 

Theodore I. La^caris .... 


John III. Ducas .... 


Theodore II. Ducas .... 


John IV. Ducas .... 

1 259-1 260 

Empire Restored 

Michael VIII. Pala^ologus 


Andronicus 11. Palzologus . . , 


Co-Emperor — 

Michael IX. .... 


Andronicus III. Palzologus 


John VI. PalsEologus .... 


Co-Emperors — 

John V. Cantacujene 


Andronicus IV. Palzologus (usurped 

throne) .... 



Table of Emperors 

Manuel II. Palaeologus . • . 

John VII. PalaEologus . 
Constantine XII. Palacologus . 

Turkish Sultans 

Mohammed II., " The Conqueror " 
Bayezid II., " The Mystic " 
Selim I., "The Great". 
Suleiman I., "The Magnificent " 
Selim II.,"TheSot" 
Murad III. 
Mohammed III. 
Ahmed I. 
Mustafa I. 

II. J 


Murad IV. 


Mohammed IV 

Suleiman II. 

Ahmed II. 

Mustafa II. 

Ahmed III. 

Mahmud I. 

Osman III. 
Mustafa III. 
Abdul Hamed 
Selim III. 
Mustafa IV. 
Mahmud II.," 
Abdul Mejid 
Abdul Aziz 
Murad V. 
Abdul Hamed 
Mohammed V 

The Reformer " 



» 5 74-1 5 95 
. X623 

. 1876 



The History of the City in ancient 
and medieval times 

I. Byzantium before Constantine. 

|T is impossible to approach Constantinople without 
seeing the beauty and the wonder of its site. 
Whether you pass rapidly down the Bosphorus, be- 
tween banks crowned with towers and houses and 
mosques, that stretch away hither and thither to dis- 
tant hills, now bleak, now crowned with dark cypress 
groves ; or up from the Sea of Marmora, watching the 
dome of S. Sophia that glitters above the closely 
packed houses, till you turn the point which brings you 
to the Golden Horn, crowded with shipping and bright 
with the flags of many nations ; or even if you come over- 
land by the sandy wastes along the shore, looking across 
the deep blue of the sea to the islands and the snow- 
crowned mountains of Asia, till you break through the 
crumbling wall within sight of the Golden Gate, and find 
yourself at a step deep in the relics of the middle ages ; you 
cannot fail to wonder at the splendour of the view which 
meets your eyes. Sea, sunlight, the quaint houses that 
stand close upon the water's ^'^'^'^^ the white palaces, 
the crowded quays, and the crowning glory of the 
Eastern domes and the mediaeval walls — these are the 

fhe Story of Constantinople 

elements that combine to impress, and the impression is 
never lost. Often as you may see agam the approach 
to the imperial city, its splendour and dignity and the 
exquisite beauty of colour and light will exert their old 
charm, and as you put foot in the New Rome you will 
feel all the glamour of the days that are gone by. 


So of old the Greeks who founded the city dwelt 
lovinglv on the contrast of sea and land here meeting, 
and hymned the nymphs of wave and spring, the 
garden by the shore. 

" Where ocean bathes earth's footstool these sea-bowers 
Bedeck its solid wavelets : wise was he 
Who blended shore with deep, with seaweed flowers, 
And Naiads' rivulets with Nereids' sea." 

Strictly speaking the peninsula on which the city 
stands is of the form of a trapezium. It juts oat mto 

The Ancient City 

the sea, beating back as it were the fierce waves of the 
Bosphorus, and forcing them to turn aside from their 
straight course and widen into the Sea of Marmora, 
which the ancients called the Propontis, narrowing again 
as it forces its way between the near banks of the 
Hellespont, which rise abrupt and arid from the Euro- 
pean side, and slope gently away in Asia to the foot ot 
Mount Ida. Northwards there is the little bay of the 
Golden Horn, an arm as it were of the Bosphorus, in- 
to which run the streams which the Turks call the 
Sweet Waters of Europe. The mouth of the harbour is 
no more than five hundred yards across. The Greeks 
of the Empire spanned it by a chain, supported here and 
there on wooden piles, fragments of which still remain 
in the Armouiy that was once the church of S. Irene. 
Within is safe anchorage in one of the finest harbours 
of the world. 

South of the Golden Horn, on the narrow tongue 
of land — narrow it seems as seen from the hills of the 
northern shore — is the city of Constantine and his suc- 
cessors in empire, seated, like the old Rome, on seven 
hills, and surrounded on three sides by sea, on the 
fourth by the still splendid, though shattered, mediaeval 
walls. Northwards are the two towns, now linked 
together, of Pera and Galata, that look back only to 
the trading settlements of the Middle Ages. 

The single spot united, as Gibbon puts it, the pros- 
pects of beauty, of safety, and of wealth : and in a 
masterly description that great historian has collected 
the features which made the position, " formed by 
Nature for the centre and capital of a great monarchy,'* 
attractive to the first colonists, and evident to Con- 
stantine as the centre where he could best combine and 
command the power of the Eastern half of his mighty 

" Situated in the forty-first degree of latitude, the 


The Story of Constantinople 

imperial city commanded, from her seven liills, the 
opposite shores of Europe and Asia ; the cHmate was 
heahhy and temperate, the soil fertile, the harbour 
secure and capacious, and the approach on the side 
of the continent was of small extent and easy defence. 
The Bosphorus and Hellespont may be considered as 
the two gates of Constantinople, and the prince who 
possessed those important passages could always shut 
them against a naval enemy and open them to the 

rf — 


fleets of commerce. The preservation of the eastern 
provinces may, in some degree, be ascribed to the 
policy of Constantine, as the barbarians of the 
Euxinc, who in the preceding age had poured their 
armaments into the heart of the Mediterranean, soon 
desisted from the exercise of piracy, and despaired of 
forcing this insurmountable barrier. When the gates 
of the Hellespont and Bosphorus were shut, the capital 
still enjoyed, within their spacious enclosure, every pro- 
duction which would supply the wants, or gratify the 
luxury, of its numerous inhabitants. The sea-coast of 

The Aitcient City 

Thrace and Bithynla, which languish under the weight 
of the Turkish oppression, still exhibits a rich prospect 
of vineyards, of gardens, and of plentiful harvests ; and 
the Propontis has ever been renowned for an inexhaust- 
ible store of the most exquisite fish, that are taken in 
their stated seasons without skill, and almost without 
labour. But when the passages of the straits were 
thrown open for trade, they alternately admitted the 
natural and artificial riches of the north and south, of 
the Euxine, and of the Mediterranean. Whatever 
rude commodities were collected in the forests of 
Germany and Scythia, as far as the sources of the 
Tanais and the Borysthenes ; whatsoever was manu- 
factured by the skill of Europe or Asia ; the corn of 
Egypt, and the gems and spices of the farthest India ; 
were brought by the varying winds into the port of 
Constantinople, which for many ages attracted the 
commerce of the ancient world." 

There is no wonder that legend should surround the 
beginnings of the imperial city of the East. Men from 
Argos and Megara under the navigator Byzas founded 
it about 657 B.C. But mythology made the founder 
the son of Neptune the sea god, and said that lo, 
changed into a heifer, swam across the narrow strait 
that divides Europe from Asia, and so gave it the 
name of Bosphorus, which means literally Oxford. The 
Delphic oracle told men to settle " opposite the land 
of the blind," for blind were those men of Megara 
who some years before had chosen Chalcedon on the 
Asiatic shore instead of the matchless site on which 
rose the city of Byzantium. 

The early history can be briefly told. Byzantium 
was the first of the cities of Europe to fall into the 
hands of Darius. It was burned to the ground by 
the Persians, rescued and rebuilt by Pausanias, was 
threatened by the Ten Thousand on their retreat, and 


The Story of Constantinople 

saved by the eloquence of Xenophon. Two years it 
was besieged by Philip of Macedon, and was saved by 
the Athenians. When Rome first showed her power 
in those lands Byzantium was her ally ; but her 
chequered fortunes ended their first epoch with de- 
struction at the hands of Septimius Severus in 196 a.d. 
She waited then for a century till her real founder came. 
Byzantine coins go back as far as the fifth century b.c, 
and there were in the early Middle Ages many surviving 
memorials of pre-Christian times ; of these there are 
now left only the striking Corinthian column standing 
on a high granite base in the garden of the old Seraglio, 
which almost certainly commemorates a victory of the 
Emperor Claudius Gothicus, some parts of the founda- 
tions of the Hippodrome, an inscription in the Doric 
dialect which formerly stood in the Stadium, and that 
wonderful serpent column, which only came, it is true, 
to the city after Constantine rebuilt it, but which was 
centuries before in the temple of Apollo at Delphi. 

2. From Constantine to Justinian. 

The true history of the city begins with Constantine 
the Great. It is said that he hesitated at first, like the 
men of Megara, between Byzantium and Chalcedon, 
when he came to choose a spot from which to rule the 
East. But when he chose aright he founded a city 
which has endured to this day, and which it is inconceiv- 
able should ever be deserted again. The site on which 
he built is about four miles long, broadening from less 
than a mile where it fronts the Bosphorus to four miles 
from where the Marble Tower now stands to the 
Golden Horn. Seven hills and six valleys diversify 
the ground. The seven hills as we see them now 
stretch thus from east to west. First is that irregular 
elevation ending at Seraglio Point, on which stand the 

The Aticient City 

buildings of the old Seraglio, S. Irene, S. Sophia, the 
great mosque of Sultan Ahmed, and the Hippodrome. 
Second, and north-west of it, is the hill on which 
stands the column of Constantine himself, now burned 
and broken. On the third stands the great tower by 
the War Office (Seraskierat), the m.osques of Bayezid 
and Suleiman. A valley descends northwards to the 
Golden Horn ; and across it runs the Aqueduct of 
Valens, and on the other side is the hill marked by the 
mosque of Mohammed the Conqueror. The fifth hill 
stretches from the fourth almost to the Golden Horn, 
and on it stands the mosque of Selim. The sixth hill, 
divided from the fifth by a valley ascending from the 
Golden Horn, has now the ruins of the palace called 
by the people " the House of Felisarius," and the 
seventh extends from the south of the Adrianople Gate 
to the Sea of Marmora. As the old foundation, so 
the nevv' planning of Constantine has its legend. It 
is said that he traced the boundary of his city himself, 
walking spear in hand and marking the line of the 
walls ; and when his courtiers asked him how far he 
could go he answered, as though he saw a sacred 
vision, *' Until He tarries Who now goes before." 
He ascribed in his laws the founding to the command 
of God. 

He did not cover the whole ground of the Seven 
Hills. It is difficult to trace with certainty the line of 
the walls, but it would seem probable that they ex- 
tended from what is now the inner bridge across the 
Golden Horn to a point on the Sea of Marmora about 
midway between the gate of Daoud Pasha and the 
Psamatia Gate. This would exclude part of the fifth, 
sixth, and seventh hills ; but it is improbable that they 
were left entirely unprotected or completely excluded 
from the city of Constantine. By the sixth at any- 
rate already stood the Blachernae, later to be the 


The Story of Co7istantinople 

famous palace of the Byzantine emperors. Sycae, 
across the Golden Horn, was the name of what is now 
Galata. It was at one time the quarter where the 
Galatian mercenaries dwelt, and quite early in history 
it had another division named Pera, or "across the 
water. '^ The seaward walls remained as they had 
been in old Byzantium, and they were repaired, and 
brought forward to the point whence the new land 
walls started. Of the remains of Constantine's time 
there are none that are not half destroyed or wholly 
altered, but the Church of S. Irene still recalls the 
days of its first founder, and the serpent column from 
Delphi still stands in the Hippodrome where he 
placed it. 

The divisions of Constantine's city are not easy to 
recover. For municipal government it had, like 
Rome, fourteen regions, two of which were outside 
the walls, those (xiii.) of Sycae and (xiv.) of 
Blachernae. From the Golden gate, which was not 
far from the Marmora end of the land walls (the 
name Isa Kapou Mesjidi still recalls the Holy Name 
of Jesus which it bore), a road led to the Augusteum. 
The Forum of Constantine stood outside where the 
old Byzantine walls had been, and west of the 
Hippodrome. The Hippodrome extended south-west 
from the Forum of the Augusteum. North-east at 
some distance stood the Church of S. Irene. The 
Augusteum which, as Mr Bury says, we may trans- 
late place impenale, had the Church of S. Sophia, begun 
probably by Constantius, on the north ; on the east 
the Senate house, and some buildings of the Palace ; 
on the south the great Palace itself, built eastwards of 
the Hippodrome and commanding the magnificent 
view over the Marmora islands to the shores of Asia 
and the snows of Olympus. 

Of the splendour of the city of Constantine many 

: 1 

1. '{■ 





1 ii •■ 

.ill ^ 


' [ kjk 

'■■■VV' ■'•■ 'i ?^»^'7^>W 


The Ancient City 

hints of description remain. Constantinople was 
enriched, says one writer, by the spoils of all other 
cities : Rome and Athens, Sicily and Antioch, were 
robbed of treasures. Of all these treasures the most 
wonderful, almost if not quite alone, survives. For 
eight hundred years it had already stood in the 
Sanctuary of Delphi, the serpent column with its 
triple head, inscribed with the names of the Greek 
city states which had triumphed on the field of Plataea. 
Through all the changes of the sixteen centuries since 
Constantine lived the column has still remained where 
he set it. Its heads are now broken off, and one 
may be seen in the museum ; but parts of the inscrip- 
tion on the coils might still be traced fifteen years 
ago when rubbings were taken. The name of the 
Tenians, whose trireme brought the news to the 
Greeks of the Persian approach, may still be seen. 
" For this service," savs Herodotus, " the Tenians 
v/ore inscribed in Delphi, on the tripod, among those 
who had overthrown the barbarian." Thus for nearly 
two thousand four hundi'ed years this memorial has 
endured. Of all the wonders of the city of Con- 
stantine there is none like it. 

From Constantine to Justinian the history of the 
city may be rapidly traversed, for no great builder 
came between them to rival their work. It was on 
May II, 330 A.D., that the city of Constantine was 
dedicated and received the name of New or Second 
Rome. Throned in the Hippodrome, ever after to 
be the centre of Byzantine life, Constantine gave 
thanks to God for the birth of this fair city, the 
daughter (so wrote S. Augustine), as it were, of 
Rome herself. Grandeur, riches, dignity, he could 
give to his new city : but before he died it was plain 
that he could not bequeath to her a legacy of peace. 

The early history of Constantinople is largely con- 


The Story of Const antifiople 

cerned with the defence of the true Christian faith, 
handed down from the Apostles, against the errors of 
Arius. The Council of Nicaea (Isnik) in 325, sum- 
moned by Constantine at a place not more than a day's 
journey from Constantinople, defined the being of the 
Second Person of the Blessed Trinity as '0/xooj<r/ov, 
of one essence (substance), with that of the Father, 
but centuries passed before the false teaching was 
overcome. It was natural that at Constantinople, the 
seat of imperial government, the strife should be con- 
centrated ; that there the Arian leaders should meet 
the great S. Athanasius of Alexandria in keenest 
attack. It was there that Constantine gave his order 
to the aged bishop Alexander that Arius should be 
admitted to communion. There the bishop lay in 
prayer before the altar in the apse of S. Irene, be- 
seeching God to spare him the profanation. There 
that very day Arius met his awfully sudden death. 

Under the sons of Constantine the imperial city 
witnessed scenes of disturbance and persecution. As 
soon as Constantius freed himself from the danger of 
civil war, he threw himself warmly into the support 
of Arianism, and "devoted the leisure of his winter 
quarters,'^ says Gibbon, " to the amusement or toils of 
controversy ; the sword of the magistrate, and even of 
the tyrant, was unsheathed to enforce the reasons of 
the theologian " ; and he refers to the happy passages 
in which Ammianus Marcellinus records the results of 
his disastrous activity, in language which loses nothing 
in Gibbon's EngHsh. 

" The Christian religion, which in itself is plain and 
simple, he confounded by the dotage of superstition. 
Instead of reconciling the parties by the weight of his 
authority, he cherished and propagated by verbal dis- 
putes the differences which his vain curiosity had 
excited. The highways were covered with troops 

The Ancient City 

of bishops, galloping from every side to the assem- 
blies which they call synods ; and, while they laboured 
to reduce the whole body to their own particular 
opinions, the public establishment of the posts was 
almost ruined by their hasty and repeated journeys." 
The ** opinions " indeed were far from original to 
Constantius, but his support of Arianism rendered the 
position of the Church in the imperial city dangerous 
and uncertain. Five times was the bishop Paul 
banished from the city. The Catholics rose in tumult, 
and the streets of Constantinople saw for the first time 
what they have often since witnessed, a massacre in 
which not even the churches preserved those who fled 
to them for refuge. Another fatal precedent had 
already been set when Constantine died, by the murder 
of many princes of his house. One of the few sur- 
vivors ascended the throne in 361, on the death of the 
last of Constantine^s sons. 'I'his new Emperor was 
Julian, whom later ages have named the Apostate. 

Julian had been baptized and had ** followed the way 
of the Christians " till he was twenty. He had even, 
it seems, taken minor orders as a reader. But he was 
greatly attracted by the old Greek ideals, and had not 
patience to study the Christian religion perfectly. As 
Emperor he set himself seriously to revive Paganism, 
which had received its death-blow from Constantine. 

The pagan Emperor was above all things a pedant 
and a doctrinaire. It is impossible to study his life or 
his writings without a sense of his extraordinary self- 
conceit. He was moral in life, sound and excellent 
even to weariness in his platitudinarian sentiments ; but 
he was obstinate, and blind, and abnormally self- 
conscious, as men of his mould always are. He was 
so convinced that he was right that he was utterly 
blind to the good deeds of Christians and deaf to their 
arguments, even from the clearest thinkers. We sec 


T^he Story oj Constantinople 

in him not a trace of intellectual progress, even on his 
own lines ; we find him throughout intensely super- 
stitious and fond of dabbling in occult arts. As a 
student, he somewhat hastily accepted certain con- 
clusions, and found himself a marked man in conse- 
quence. From that moment he clung to his philosophy 
with the tenacity of a limited mind ; and we may be 
quite sure the story is legendary that such a man 
admitted on his deathbed the triumph of a religious 
system which he had combated all his life. 

Julian was brought up probably in Constantinople. 
As Emperor he did not a little to increase the pride 
and beauty of the city. Especially interesting to him 
were the constitutional rules which Constantine had set 
up in imitation of the old Rome, and he paid notable 
respect to the office of the Consul, and enlarged the 
powers of the Senate. Art and science he endeavoured 
to foster by endowments for teaching in the schools of 
the city, and in this he was followed by his successors. 
Julian died a disappointed man in 363, and his suc- 
cessors inclined to the Catholic party ; but still 
Arianism was strong, and its strength was felt not 
least in Constantinople. Jovian proclaimed toleration, 
Valentinian followed him, Valens professed Arianism. 
While religions contended, the material prosperity of 
the city continued to grow. In 378, when the Goths 
drew near to besiege the imperial city, they turned 
back, it is said, at the sight of its increased size. Al- 
ready people of every kindred and tongue poured into 
the great mart for commerce and pleasure. At length, 
says Sozomen, it far surpassed Rome both in population 
and riches, and Eunapius thus describes its importance in 
his day : — " Constantinople, formerly called Byzantium, 
allowed the ancient Athenians a liberty of importing 
corn in great quantities ; but now not all the ships of 
burden from Egypt, Asia, Syria, Phoenicia, and many 


The Ancient City 

other nations can import a quantity sufficient for the 
pupport of those people whom Constantine, by un- 
peopling other cities, has transported thither." Already 
there began the custom, which has lasted so many 
centuries, of building houses on wooden piles thrust out 
into the sea. As the incursion of the barbarians became 
more dangerous many took refuge in the capital ; and 
yearly the churches grew in importance, and the 
monasteries attracted more religious. 

** There were many structures which Constantine 
had only commenced ; and the completion of the 
fortifications of the city had been left to Constantius ; 
Julian found it necessary to construct a second harbour 
on the side of the sea of Marmora ; ^ Valens was 
obliged to improve the waterworks of the city by the 
erection of the fine aqueduct which spans the valley 
between the fourth and fifth hills. And how large 
a number of hands such work required appears from 
the fact that when the aqueduct was repaired, in the 
ninth century, 6000 labourers were brought from the 
provinces to Constantinople for the purpose." ^ 

But while the magnificent aqueduct of Valens 
(364-378) still towers over the city, as one views 
it from the heights of Pera, no other great building 
was added till the reign of Theodosius the Great 
(378-395), which marks the triumph of Catholic 
Christianity and the great increase in the splendour 
of the patriarchal and imperial abode. A contem- 
porary, Gregory of Nyssa, quaintly describes the re- 
sults of the theological interests which now surrounded 
the throne. Not only did great preachers fill the 
churches with attentive crowds, but the poor took 
up the tale. '*The city is full of mechanics and 

1 This was close to where is now the Kutchuk Aya 
Sofia ("church of S. Sergius and S. Bacchus). 

2 Van Millingen, "Walls of Constantinople," p. 41. 


The Story of Constantinople 

slaves who aie all of them profound theologians, and 
preach in the shops and in the streets. If you 
desire a man to change, a piece of money for you 
he informs you wherein the Son differs from the 
Father ; if you ask the price of a loaf you are told 
by way of reply that the Son is inferior to the Father ; 
and if you enquire whether the bath is ready, the 
answer is that the Son was made out of nothing." 
This was in the time of the Arian triumph. It was 
the work of great preachers, as well as of the ortho- 
dox Emperor, to recover the Church from the blows 
she had received in the house of her friends. 

The three great saints of the Eastern Church in the 
fourth century were in different ways associated with 
Constantinople. S. Basil of Caesarea in Cappadocia, 
(brother of S. Gregory of Nyssa) was a fellow- 
student of the Emperor Julian, and died in 379, 
He knew very little directly of the seat of empire ,* 
he probably only twice passed through it ; but his 
writings, full in every page of lucid order and perspi- 
cuous exposition, did much to vindicate the position 
which the orthodox in Constantinople were struggling 
to retain. Probably it was before his death that the 
great preacher, S. Gregory of Nazianzus, was plead- 
ing in the imperial city, and vindicated by his great 
oration the worship of the Holy Trinity. The site of 
his first preaching was commemorated by the building 
of the Church of Anastasia, a name given to denote 
the rising again of the Catholic faith of Nicsea. The 
sixteenth century mosque of Mehmed Pacha, south- 
west of the Hippodrome, preserves the position of 
the church, which was destroyed in 1458. At first 
the mission of S. Gregory was conducted amid scenes 
of the greatest disturbance and at great danger to his 
own life. His church was profaned, he himself was 
stoned. But when Theodosius entered the citv in 

The Ancient City 

triumph he gave to S. Gregory the great church of 
the Twelve Apostles, and himself sought to seat him 
upon the episcopal throne. Humble, and weakened 
by suffering, it was with reluctance that the saint 
entered upon the heritage of the church ; but he 
records that when he entered the sanctuary the light 
that burst forth on the chill November day cheered 
him to give thanks before all the people for the 
benefits which the Blessed Trinity had bestowed. 
After a month of reluctance he was at length in- 
stalled as bishop. In May 381 the second General 
Council of the Church was assembled by the order 
of the Emperor Theodosius at Constantinople. It 
reasserted the creed of Niccea, emphasised the Catholic 
teaching of the Divinity of the Holy Ghost, and con- 
demned the heresy of Apollinaris. Its claim to be 
ecumenical rests on its unanimous acceptance of " all 
the nations and all the churches of the Christian world." 

By this council the precedence of the bishop of Con- 
stantinople in the Church was assigned as next after thai 
of the Roman bishop, " because it is the new Rome." 

S. Gregory, attacked by critics for his acceptance of 
the see, which he had so reluctantly received, withdrew 
to Nazianzus. " The title of a saint had been added 
to his name, but the tendencies of his heart, and the 
elegance of his genius, reflect a more pleasing lustre on 
the memory of Gregory of Nazianzen," says Gibbon in 
his inimitable way. The consecration of his successor, 
a senator named Nectarius, who when elected had not 
yet been baptised, is described by the same classic as 
" whimsical," but it served to bring peace to the 
Church of Constantinople. The conquests of Theo- 
dosius confirmed the security of the imperial throne, 
and under the rule of the orthodox Emperor the 
Church in the East regained her peace. By his order 
all churches were given up to the orthodox, and his 

B 17 

The Story oj Constantinople 

edict condemned all those who taught heretical doc- 
trines, and " who, though possessing a sound faith, 
form congregations separate from the canonical 
bishops." Under Theodosius the security of life and 
property in the imperial city tended to a great increase 
of wealth and population ; and with that to a consider- 
able extension of the area occupied. 

*' Should the zeal of the Emperor to adorn the city 
continue," said the orator Themistius, " a wider circuit 
will be required, and the question will arise whether the 
city added to Constantinople by Theodosius is not 
more splendid than the city which Constantine added 
to Byzantium." 

*< No longer is the vacant ground in the city more 
extensive than that occupied by buildings ; nor are we 
cultivating more territory within our walls than we in- 
habit ; the beauty of the city is not as heretofore 
scattered over it in patches, but covers the whole area 
like a robe woven to the very fringe. The city gleams 
with gold and porphyry. It has a [new] Forum, 
named after the Emperor ; it owns baths, porticos, 
gymnasia ; and its former extremity is now its centre. 
Were Constantine to see the capital he founded, he 
would behold a glorious and splendid scene, not a bare 
and empty void ; he would find it fair, not with appar- 
ent but with real beauty." ^ 

Th.e beginning of the fifth century witnessed the 

great extension of the city which the orator so grandi- 

foquently describes in anticipation. Anthemius,^who 

ruled during the earlier part of the minority of Theo- 

' dosius II., built the great wall, a mile or in parts a mile 

and a half to the west of Constantine's wall, which 

still extends from the Sea of Marmora to the so-called 

"palace of Belisarius." It was within the city now 

rapidly growing, that the greatest preacher of the early 

1 ThemistiiiSj Orat'O xviii., quoted by Van Millingcn, p 42. 


The Ancient City 

Church, began at the end of the fourth century to exer- 
cise his marvellous influence over the crowds that 
thronged the great church of the capital. Arcadius, 
the son and successor of Theodosius I., having heard 
of the splendid eloquence of John, a preacher of 
Antioch, whom men came to call Chrysostom (the 
golden-mouthed), nominated him to the throne of 
Constantinople on the death of Nectarius in 397. 

He set an example, which the clergy sadly needed, 
of simplicity and asceticism ; he was not only a re- 
former but an organiser of missions, and above all a 
preacher of righteousness. The Emperor and Empress, 
Arcadius and Eudocia, were among his most ardent 
admirers. He owed his nomination to the imperial 
minister Eutropius ; yet he denounced his vices at the 
height of his power, and when he fell preserved him in 
sanctuary from the rage of the people. But the 
Empress and the courtiers soon grew restless under his 
searching exposure of vice and worldliness. He was a 
severe disciplinarian : bishops were ready to turn against 
him, and the ladies of the court were determined to 
avenge themselves on their censor. When he de- 
nounced the Empress almost openly as Jezebel, it was 
clear that peace could not long be maintained even in 
appearance. Charges of heresy, complicated by his 
charitable succour of some Eastern monks whom the 
bishop of Alexandria had ill-treated and banished, led 
to his condemnation by a council of his enemies at 
Chalcedon, across the Bosphorus. When the citizens 
heard this they surrounded the palace of their beloved 
bishop and kept watch all night lest he should be seized, 
but he gave himself up and was banished to Hieron 
(now Anadoli Kavak) at the mouth of the Black Sea 
on the Asiatic side. The people assembled round the 
imperial palace with threats ; an earthquake shook the 
resolution of the Empress, and Chrysostom was brought 


The Story of Constantinople 

back in triumph to his throne. His position seemed 
stronger than ever. Always ready to believe the best, 
he accepted the Empress's assurance of friendship and 
repaid it with courtierlike expressions of respect. But 
it was soon apparent that the friendship could not be con- 
tinued without a sacrifice of principle. Eudocia envied, it 
would seem, the divine honours of the pagan emperors ; 
and the dedication of her statue in September 403 was 
made the occasion of blasphemous and licentious 
revelry. From the ambo of the great church S. John 
Chrysostom denounced the wickedness of the festival, 
while the sound of the disturbance could be heard as 
he spoke. Men declared that he compared the 
Empress to Herodias — "Again Herodias dances: 
again she demands the head of John on a charger." 

The Empress demanded the punishment of the bold 
preacher. Intrigues won over the Emperor, time- 
serving bishops brought up ingenious distortions of 
Church rules through which Chrysostom could be 
punished. It was pretended that he was not legally 
bishop, and at last the timid Emperor gave the order 
to arrest him, an act which was accomplished, in a 
scene of brutal disorder and violence, in the great 
church itself on Easter Eve 4O4, when the sacrament 
of baptism was being ministered to three thousand 

Two months later he was sent into banishment, and 
his adherents underwent a bitter persecution. They 
appealed to the churches of the West for aid : Chrysos- 
tom himself wrote to Rome, Milan, and Aquileia. 
But the Emperor was not to be moved. In his 
banishment at Cucusus, on the borders of Cilicia and 
Armenia, the Saint exercised as wide an influence 
as on his throne. Constant letters to Constantinople 
cheered the loyal clergy, comforted penitents, aroused 
faint hearts to devoted seivice of God. But his suffer- 

The Ajicient City 

Ings in exile were at length made fatal by the brutality 
with which he was hurried from place to place, and he 
gave up his soul on September 14, 407, a martyr to 
his zeal for righteousness. Thirty years afterwards in 
438 his body was translated to the city where his 
memory was still cherished. It came in triumphal 
procession down the Bospliorus followed by crowds of 
boats, and was laid in a tomb by the altar in the 
Church of the Holy Apostles ; the Emperor, Theo- 
dosius II., praying for the pardon of God on the sins 
of his parents. 

Thus briefly the tale of Chrysostom may be told. 
It is characteristic of the struggles through which the 
Church of Constantinople had to pass during the years 
of unchecked imperial power, when it was dependent 
on the arbitrary authority of a sovereign who might be 
weak and led by evil counsellors, or wicked and re- 
sentful of any criticism of his deeds, but who had 
always at his command a body of brutal soldiery, often 
pagan and retaining of the old Roman tradition only 
the implicit obedience to the commands of their ruler. 
The name of S. John Chrysostom, loved and honoured 
by the people in his XSl^, has remained the chief glory 
of the Church of Constantinople. It is said that his 
tomb was rifled by the Crusaders in 1204, and his 
head is shown among the relics of the Cathedral of 
Pisa ; but in countless ways his memory is still pre- 
served by the Church which he ruled. At the Cathedral 
Church of the Patriarchate in the Phanar they point 
to-day to a pulpit and a throne (of much later date) 
as his ; and the ancient liturgy of the East, used from 
time immemorial in the Church of Constantinople, has 
been given his name, as that of the most famous of the 
holy prelates who used it. 

The troubles of the Church, which centred round 
the persecution and martyrdom of S. Chrysostom, were 


The Story of Constantinople 

followed by at least outward peace in religious matters. 
The chief clergy of Constantinople became the mere 
officers of the Court. But the dangers of the times, 
when again and again the barbarian was at the gates, 
turned men's minds to the repair of the fortifications 
and the completion of their circuit around the now 
greatly extended city. 

The work of Anthemius, regent during part of the 
minority of Theodosius II., was eulogised by Chrysostom 
himself. The office of Praetorian Praefect of the East 
which he held, was lionoured, said the great preacher, 
by his holding it. He restored the defences of the 
Empire after the weakness of Arcadius, " and to crown 
the system of defence he made Constantinople a 
mighty citadel. The enlargement and refortification of 
the city was thus part of a comprehensive and far seeing 
plan to equip the Roman State in the East for the 
impending desperate struggle with barbarism ; and of 
all the services which Anthemius rendered, the most 
valuable and enduring was the addition he made to the 
military importance of the capital. The bounds he 
assigned to the city fixed, substantially, her permanent 
dimensions, and behind the bulwarks he raised — im- 
proved and often repaired indeed by his successors — 
Constantinople acted her great part in the history of 
the world." ^ 

The two greatest interests of Constantinople have 
always been the military and the ecclesiastical. The 
Eastern churches have always looked, and look to- 
day, on the New Rome as the centre of true religion 
and sound learning. The theology of the Councils 
is the theology of the great Church of Constantinople 
and its patriarchs ; and in the days of its bitterest 
persecution, in the times when the infidel has ruled, 
the strongest sentiment of the Greek people, who feel 
1 Van Miilingen, pp. 44, 45. 

The Ancient City 

that the city is still truly their own, is that of loyalty 
to the unalterable faith and the immemorial liturgies 
of the holy Orthodox Church preserved by the suc- 
cessors of S. Chrysostom. But while the intense 
Intellectual keenness of the East and the chivalrous 
conservatism of the ancient Greek families preserves 
undisputed the dominion of religion, and the thronged 
churches witness to a devotion which is perhaps more 
conspicuous than in any city which lives on to our 
day from the centuries of the Middle Ages, the 
great city of Constantine can never cease to be the 
home of a military power, where military science is 
cultivated and the soldier's life is the most prominent 
before the eyes of the people. Even at the lowest 
l)oint of the Empire, the great city of the Csesars 
was always a military stronghold of the first class. 
The streets have never ceased to be thronged with 
soldiers, and the military pageants of to-day look 
back for their origin and their necessity to the days 
of Constantine and Theodosius and Anthemius the 
wall-builder. It is said that to-day the city is more 
completely defended than any other in Europe. More 
than sixteen centuries ago it was the strength of the 
walls of Anthemius and the size of the army and tlie 
rieet that he gathered that turned back the army of 
Attila. Just as the whole city was concerned in the 
doings of the Church, its buildings, its festivals, its 
councils, so were all the citizens bound to take part 
in its military defence. The walls, like the churches, 
belonged to all. Strict laws, from which no one was 
exempt, and the power of levying special taxes besides 
the due proportion of the city land-tax, made every 
man liable to contribute. Characteristically the 
Hippodrome had its share in directing the work. The 
two factions of the Circus, the blues and the greens, 
were charged with the direction ; and it is said that 


The Story of Constantinople 

in 447 they furnished no less than sixteen thousand 
labourers for the work. 

The reign of Theodosius II. was the great age of 
the construction of defences. The walls of Anthemiiis 
were built in 413 ; in 439 the sea walls were ex- 
tended to include the part of the city now enclosed. 
In 447, an earthquake, always the greatest enemy 
of the fortifications and responsible even now for more 
destruction than any other force, overthrew much of 
what had been so lately built, with fifty-seven towers. 
Attila was almost at the gates, and was dictating an 
ignominious treaty of peace. But, as an inscription 
which may be read to-day on the gate now called 
Yeni-Mevlevi Haneh Kapoussi tells — 

'* In sixty days, by order of the sceptre loving Emperor, 
Konstantinos the Eparch added wall to wall." 

A Latin inscription makes the same record almost in 
the words of the contemporary chronicler Marcellinus 
Comes — 

" Theodosii jussis gemino nee mense peracto 
Constantinus ovans haec moenia firma locavit 
Tarn cito quam stabilem Pallas vix conderet arcem." 

This addition was a new wall, in front of that of 
Anthemius, with 192 towers, and a moat without, 
forming tiers of defence. It was this magnificent series 
of bulwarks which, in the words of the historian of the 
walls, " so long as ordinary courage survived and the 
modes of ancient warfare were not superseded, made 
Constantinople impregnable, and behind which civilisa- 
tion defied the assaults of barbarism for a thousand 
years." ^ 

Theodosius II. reigned till 450. The later part of 
his reign was disturbed by the Nestorian controversy, in 

1 Van Millingen, p. 46. 

The Aficient City 

which the bishop of Constantinople himself involved the 
Chmxh. The denial by this prelate of the title Theo- 
tokos (Mother of God) to the Blessed Virgin Mary 
was no obscure attack upon the reality of the Incarna- 
tion as tlie Church had always received it ; and the 
people of the city as well as the clergy received the 
new teaching with disgust. Eastern and Western 
bishops united against the heresy, and in 431 
the third General Council of the Church at Ephesus 
condemned it and its author, and again defined the 
Catholic faith. The party of Nestorius was not sup- 
pressed, though he was himself deposed, and in the 
sixth century it became the great agent of Christian 
missions in the East. 

Hardly was this false teaching rejected before a new 
heresy arose. Eutyches, a monk of Constantinople, 
denied the existence of two natures in Christ, and after 
a dispute which shook the Church for twenty years 
his teaching was at last condemned by the fourth 
General Council, which met at Chalcedon, just across 
the Bosphorus. The Council also emphasised the 
importance of the position now held by the New Rome 
by enacting that it should be " magnified in ecclesias- 
tical matters even like the elder imperial Rome, as 
being next to it." This rule was accepted by the 
Emperor Marcian, and the power it gave to consecrate 
the metropolitans of Thrace, Asia, and Pontus was 
supported by the State as a badge of supremacy. The 
emperors who followed Marcian were all more or less 
concerned in the theological strife which the opinions of 
Eutyches had raised. The Monophysites, as the party 
which rejected the decisions of Chalcedon came to be 
called, was constantly rising into power in the Court. 
The imperial crown was worn in turn by four adventurers, 
who deposed prelates and attempted to reconcile parties 
at their will. In 482 the Emperor Zcno, with the 


The Story of Constantinople 

advice of the patriarch Acacius, put forth the Henoticon 
(form of union), which was intended to reconcile the 
Monophysites to the Cathohc Church. The con- 
troversy was far from stilled by this inept document ; 
and when in 484, Felix, the pope of Rome, with other 
Western bishops, wrote to the patriarch Acacius, de- 
claring him deposed from his ofiice, and separated from 
the communion of the faithful, a schism was caused in 
Constantinople itself. While the majority of the clergy 
and people treated the Roman decree with contempt, 
some of the monks, and especially the Akoimetai 
(an order which kept up perpetual worship by suc- 
cession of worshippers, and thus received the name 
of ** sleepless "), refused communion with their own 
patriarch. The Henoticon had divided the Church. 
The patriarchates of Antioch and Alexandria were 
Monophysite ; Jerusalem and Constantinople were 

The reign of Anastasius, the son-in-lav/ of Leo, 
whose wife was the widow of his predecessor Zeno, 
was regarded by the orthodox as an era of persecu- 
tion. Himself a man of piety and virtue, he was 
greeted by the people in the Circus on liis accession 
with the cry, " Reign as you have lived ! " He 
added to the defences of the city a great wall 
stretching from the Marmora to the Euxine, some 
thirty-five miles from Constantinople ; but he unhappily 
turned to theology, and widened the gulf which the 
Henoticon had made between the Emperors and the 
Church. In November 512, the streets again ran 
with blood shed by the people for the cause of 
religious truth. Amid these years stained by crime 
and folly, the imperial city was again and again in 
danger from external as well as internal foes. At 
the beginning of the reign of Anastasius the Tsaurians 
who had been driven from the city rebelled, and for 

The Aticient City 

five years there was war, ended only vhen, in 498, 
Isaurian captives were led in triumph through the 
streets. Eleven years before, Theodoric the Goth 
had stood before the gates, but turned back from 
the massive strength which he could not overthrow. 
He was now ruler of Italy. And even in the East, 
Huns, Romans and Goths again and again threatened 
the capital. Anastasius dabbled in theology to the 
end, made overtures to Pope Hormisdas v/hich came 
to nothing, and died at the age of eighty-eight, re- 
gretted by none. 

He was succeeded by an illiterate but honest 
Thracian soldier, Justin. Orthodox and straightfor- 
ward, he was welcomed by the people as a saviour and 
a second Constantine. Under his rule peace was made 
with the orthodox West, and the Church again had 

With the death of Justin, 527, we reach the second 
great epoch of the history of the imperial city. 
Constantinople before the days of Justinian, when 
Theodoric, about 461, was sent as a hostage to the 
Imperial Court, ei quid puerulus elegans erat meruit 
graitam impcrialem habere^ was the most glorious city 
of Europe. Jordanes, the historian of the Goths, 
tells how he marvelled at the wondrous sight. ** Lo ! 
now I behold," said he, " what I have often heard, 
but have never believed, the glory of so great a city ! " 
Then turning his eyes this way and that, beholding the 
situation of the city and the concourse of ships, how he 
marvels at the long perspective of lofty walls. Then 
he sees the multitude of various nations like the stream 
flowing forth from one fountain which has been fed by 
many springs ; then he beholds the soldiers in ordered 
ranks. "A god," said he, "without doubt a god 
upon earth is the Emperor of this realm, and whoso 
lifts his liand against him, that man's blood be on his 


The Story of Constantinople 

own head." Thus the barbarian may well have spoken 
when he had his first sight of the majesty of the 
Empire and its civilization in its Eastern home. 

Within a few years there was a great change. 
Earthquakes, rebellions," fires, compelled the rebuild- 
ing of a great part of Constantinople, and Justinian 
the Great, lawyer, theologian and organiser of victory, 
left monuments as enduring in architecture as in the 


other spheres of his activity. With the exception of 
the churches of S. John of the Studium and S. Irene, 
and the walls of Theodosius, there are to-day no great 
works of the Christian period, save a very few of the 
later Emperors, remaining in Constantinople except 
those which Justinian built. His architects created 
the Byzantine style which reached its magnificent 
completion in S. Sophia. The finest of the cisterns 
which astonish the traveller to-day are the work of 
his age ; and as we walk by the splendid walls that 


The Ancient City 

extend from the Marmora to the Golden Horn, it is 
along his triumphal way that we tread. The first book 
of the " Aedificia " of Procopius, written to com- 
memorate his achievements in building, is even now 
a handbook in little to the glories of Constantinople. 
Leaving to our description of the city the still stand- 
ing work of the great Emperor, we must here shortly 
sketch the reign which w^as for nine centuries the most 
glorious memory of the Eastern Empire. Born in 482 
or 483, Justinian was the son of a Dardanian peasant, 
and was born at Scupi (Uskiip), "at the crossing-point 
of great natural routes across the western part of the 
Illyrian peninsula." When his uncle Justin raised 
himself to the throne in 518 he was sent for and 
trained to succeed to, if not already to exercise, supreme 
power. So long as Justin lived Justinian was his chief 
adviser. When Vitalian, the orthodox Goth, whose 
troops in the neighbourhood of the city seemed to 
threaten the new dynasty, was murdered in the palace, 
it was Justinian, for whose concern in the crime no 
valid evidence has been produced, who rose to the 
highest place in military as well as civil affairs. In 
523 he married the beautiful Theodora, whose earlier 
life has been covered with shame by historians whose 
veracity is open at least to suspicion. She is described 
by the bitter Procopius as everything that is vile ; it is 
probably true that her youth was disreputable ; but it is 
certain that she made the noblest atonement for the 
past by the charity and piety of her later life and by 
the courage and wisdom which were of profit even to 
the Empire.^ Of her beauty there is no doubt. Small, 
pale as marble, but with brilliant eyes, the bitterest of 

* The very interesting little book of M. Antonin 
Deh'idovr, L'Im/>eratriie Theodora (1885), should be read by 
all who are attracted by the wonderful career of this ex- 
traordinary Empress. 


The Story of Constantinople 

her enemies describes her ; and when he uses the 
language of compliment he declares of the statue 
erected in her honour by the baths of Arcadius that 
" the face is beautiful but falls short of the beauty of 
the Empress, since it is utterly impossible for any mere 
human workmen to express her lovehness." Four 
years after the marriage, which was one of unbroken 
affection till the Empress died in 548, Justinian was 
associated with his uncle on the imperial throne. On 
April I, 527, he became sole Emperor, and he reigned 
till 565. 

Constantinople under Justinian became again the 
centre of Christian Europe. But before his power 
was fully established it was threatened by the gravest 
of the great insurrections with which the populace 
showed its independence and its fickle levity. The 
sedition arose in the Circus, and it was long the fashion 
to believe that Constantinople was ruled entirely under 
the sway of the factions of the Hippodrome. A more 
critical investigation has shown that the denies (6'^/xo/) 
or parties were organised bodies intimately connected 
with the court and the municipality. The denies had 
two parts, military under democrats, and civil, or 
political, under demarchs. The heads of each 
faction were officers of the court and the army, and 
the demes were fully organised for military purposes. 
Not only were they, as we have seen, intrusted witli 
the building of the wall, but they provided, under the 
Emperor Maurice, troops for the guarding of the long 
walls ; and Justinian himself, at the end of his reign, 
used them in a similar way. It was to the demes, one 
writer seems to show, that Justin owed his throne. 
But while their military and j^olitical importance is now 
fully recognised, we are still without an explanation of 
how they became connected with the parties and 
colours of the Circus. 

'I he Ancient City 

However that may be, we find in the reign of Jus- 
tinian two large Circus parties, tlie Blues and the Greens, 
with whom were merged as sub-divisions the Reds and 
the Whites, who organised the races and had so much 
liberty allowed them by the laws, that they were able 
to defy emperors and set public order at defiance. 
But the madness of their riot was not without a 
method. ^J'o the denies or factions were allowed 

THt- inPERlAL 

])rivileges which seemed the last relics of the ancient 
freedom of the Greek cities. " In the sixth century," 
says Professor Bury, " the outbreaks of the denies re- 
present a last struggle for municipal independence, on 
which it is the policy of imperial absolutism to encroach. 
The power of the dcmarchs had to give way to the 
control of the prasfects of the city." 

On January 13, 532, there began an insurrection 
called ever after the " Nika " (conquer), from the 


The Story of Constant'mople 

watchwords of the insurgents, which threatened the 
imperial throne, and went nigh to destroy the whole 
city. The prcefect of the city led to execution some 
criminals belonging to both parties, three days before. 
The Greens, during the celebration of public games in 
the Hippodrome on Sunday, January ii, appealed to 
the Emperor against Calapodius, the imperial minister, 
and the most extraordinary dialogue occurred. " Bo 
silent, Jews, Samaritans and Manichxans," cried Jus- 
tinian's mandator^ uttering imperial commands, but they 
renewed their complaints, and finally passed into insults, 
calling the Emperor tyrant and murderer. Justinian 
determined to show his indifference to the mob by the 
execution that night of criminals of both factions. 
Two were rescued, and the two factions determined to 
procure their pardon, and on the i8th, when the great 
games took place, they appealed to Justinian, but in 
vain. The two demes then declared themselves united, 
and having no answer from the prcefect whose house 
they surrounded, they set fire to the prsetorium, 
and then in the night spread the fire over the 
imperial quarter. The portico of the Palace, the 
Baths of Xeuxippus, the Senate-house, and the 
wooden church of S. Sophia were set on fire. 
Next morning they marched to the Palace and demanded 
the dismissal of the unpopular ministers. Justinian was 
about to yield, and indeed had given the order, when 
the insurgents determined to depose him. Anastasius 
had left three nephews, Probus, Hypatius and Pom- 
peius. Failing to find the first the mob burned 
his house. The two other brothers remained in safety 
in the palace. Next day the greatest general of the 
age, Belisarius, who had but recently returned from a 
victorious campaign against the Persians, sallied forth 
from the palace with a body of barbarian troops, Goths 
and Heruls — for the garrison of the city could not be 


The Ancient City 

trusted — and fierce fighting occurred for two days in 
the streets. The clergy did their utmost to restore 
peace, but were utterly unheeded, and in the evening 
of the 1 6th the Church of S. Irene, built by Constantine, 
was burnt, though not to the ground, and the Hospice 
of Samson, which stood between it and S. Sophia, 
were also destroyed. On the i yth, Saturday, the fire 
spread still further, and almost all the centre of the 
city was reduced to ashes. At night Justinian deter- 
mined to give up Hypatius and Pompeius to the mob, 
hoping no doubt that if they were conspiring against 
him they would be less dangerous outside than within 
the palace. In spite of their reluctance he drove 
them forth to their own houses. Next day, early on 
the Sunday morning, the Emperor himself went down 
to the Hippodrome and made what was little better 
than an abject submission. He swore on the gospels 
to forgive all that had been done, if order were now 
restored. ** The blame is not yours but all mine. 
For the punishment of my sins I did not grant your 
requests when first you spoke to me in this place." 
Some cried out that he swore falsely, and no heed was 
taken of his words. A few hours later Hypatius was 
proclaimed Emperor, and as the mob surrounded the 
palace it seemed that there was nothing for the Em- 
peror but flight. It was then, when Justinian was 
ready to yield and cross the Bosphorus to the safety of 
Chalcedon, that Theodora showed herself worthy of 
the purple. " No time is this," she cried, " to ask 
whether a woman should be bold before men or valiant 
when men are afraid. They who are in extremest 
peril must think of nothing but how best to meet what 
lies before them. To fly, if ever it be expedient, would 
now not be so, I declare, even if it preserved us. For 
a man born into this light not to die is impossible ; but 
for one who has been Emperor to become an exile is 

c 33 

The Story of Constantinople 

not to be endured. Let me never come to be without 
this purple robe nor live that day when men shall cease 
to call me their sovereign Lady. If you, Emperor, 
wish to escape, it is no hard matter. Here is the sea, 
and there lie the ships. But consider whether you 
may not one day wish that you had exchanged your 
mean safety for a glorious death. For me 1 love the 
ancient saying, *How brave a sepulchre a kingdom is ! ' " 

Thus Theodora proved herself fit mate for a Caesar, 
and worthy of her crown ; and those who had 
counselled flight now found courage to resist. While 
Justinian's men planned an attack, the followers of 
Hypatius agreed upon delay, and he himself sent, 
it would seem, to make peace with the Emperor. As 
his messenger went, he was told that the Csesar had 
fled, and then the unhappy pretender took upon him 
the dignity of Emperor. In a few hours Belisarius 
led his troops upon the multitude assembled in the 
Hippodrome, and before nightfall they forced their 
way in with fire and sword, and of all the citizens 
gathered in the Circus not one left it alive. Justinian 
was not told till too late that Hypatius had been 
willing to submit. The two brothers were dragged out 
with contumely, and the next morning before daylight 
they fell under the swords of the barbarian soldiers. 
The Emperor, it is said, would have spared them, 
but Theodora, " swearing by God and by him, urged 
him to have them killed." Zachariah of Mitvlene 
says that more than 80,000 persons perished in the 

At midday on Monday, January 1 9, Constantinople 
was at peace ; but it was in ruins. Three distinct 
conflagrations had reduced the grandest monuments of 
the city of Constantine to ashes. On the first two 
days of the riot all the buildings of the Augusteum 
were destroyed, and with them S. Sophia, the " Great 


The Jncient City 

Church," only its baptistery, it would seem, being saved. 
Two days later the buildings north-west of S. Sophia 
were in flames, and among them the Hospice for poor 
and sick folk, "founded in ancient times by a holy man 
whose name was Samson," and Constantine's Church 
of S. Irene. On the 17th 
the buildings round the 

Mese, the street which ... \ 

connected the forum 
of Constantino with the ,/ >; ,-. 

Augusteum, and the 
** great porticoes leading 
up to the agora named 
from Constantine, and 
many houses of rich men, 
and large property, were 
burned." Thus, a great 
part of what had been 
the first Byzantium, which 
was adorned with the 
fmest buildings of Con- 
stantine, was utterly de- 
stroyed. To one who 
saw the blackened ruins, 
they seemed like the 
masses of molten lava 
round the crater of a 
volcano. To Justinian, 
already a great law-giver, 
anew the imperial city. 

The Emperor began at once with the rebuildmg ot 
the Great Church of the Divine Wisdom. On the 
23rd of February the work was begun: on December 
26, 537, the new church was dedicated. " The pro- 
cession," says Theophanes, who wrote from older 
materials in the eighth century, "started from the 





came the task of building 

The Story of Constantinople 

church of the Anastasia," where S. Gregory of 
Nazianzus had long preached to the men of Byzantium, 
" Menas, the patriarch, sitting in the royal chariot, and 
the King walking with the people." In 558 the 
eastern part of the dome with the apse was destroyed 
by an earthquake and was rebuilt. Agathias, a con- 
temporary historian, thus describes the building and the 
restoration ; 

** Now the former church having been burnt by the 
angry mob, Justinian built it up again from the founda- 
tions, as great, and more beautiful and wonderful, and 
this most beautiful design was adorned with much 
precious metal. He built it in a round form, with 
burnt brick and lime. It was bound together here and 
there with iron ; but they avoided the use of wood, 
so that it should no more be easily burnt. Now 
Anthemius was the man who devised and worked at 
every part. And when by the earthquake the middle 
part of the roof and the higher parts had been de- 
stroyed, the Emperor made it stronger, and raised it to 
a great height. Anthemius was then dead, but the 
young man Isidorus and the other craftsmen, turning 
over in their minds the earlier design, and comparing 
what had fallen with what remained, estimated where 
the error lay, and of what kind it was. They deter- 
mined to leave the eastern and western arches as they 
were. But of the northern and southern they brought 
towards the inside that portion of the building which 
was upon the curve. And they made these arches 
wider, so as to be more in harmony with the others, 
thus making the equilateral symmetry more perfect. 
In this way they were able to cover the measurelessness 
of the empty space, and to take off some of its extent 
to form an oblong design. And again, they wrought 
that which rose up above it in the middle, whether 
cycle or hemisphere or whatever other name it may be 


The Ancient City 

called. And this also became more straightforward 
and of a better curve, in every part agreeing with the 
line ; and at the same time not so wide but higher, so 
that it did not affright the spectators as before, but was 
set much more strong and safe." 


A more minute account of the work must be reserved 
till we pass from history to description. Here we have 
only to summarise and characterise the work of the great 
architects whom Justinian employed to rebuild his city. 
The opportunity was a great one. Constantinople was 
now the centre of the civilised world. Thither came 
the sixth century a crowd as motley as those 



The Stoj-y of Constantinople 

gathered together on the day of Pentecost, or as 
may be seen now on the bridge of Galata. Men of 
Mesopotamia and Syria, Persians, Greeks from the 
islands and the Peloponnese, men of Sicily and Africa, 
Alexandrines and Palestinian Jews, met with the 
Roman and with the barbarian subjects of the now 
again undivided empire. 

Of this vast gathering of the nations Byzantine art 
was the result and the reflexion. But adaptive as it 
was of every influence that came before the eyes of its 
great masters, it was, above all, like the city where it 
reached its highest glory, pre-eminently religious and 
Christian. The new style has been called "historical- 
dogmatic," and indeed it combined in a marvellous 
manner the traditions of diflPerent races under the unit- 
ing power of the Catholic faith. 

The genius which gave to the Byzantine architecture 
its completed glory was that of Anthemius of Tralles, 
of whose skill contemporary writers write in enthusiastic 
applause. His works, says Agathias, " even if nothing 
were said about them, would suflice of themselves to 
win for him an everlasting glory in the memory of man 
as long as they stand and endure." 

The characteristics of the art of Anthemius at its 
highest development may be seen to-day in Constan- 
tinople. There are few churches earlier than his time 
still standing. Among these may be the semi-basilican 
S. Thekla and S. Theodore of Tyrone, and certainly 
are S. John of the Studium and S. Irene. The last 
was rebuilt by Justinian immediately after the Nik a 
insurrection in 532, but it belongs to the earlier style. 
Similar to it was the church of S. Peter and S. Paul, 
now destroyed, but of which some beautiful marble 
capitals lie in the sea close to the palace of Hormisdas. 
Later came the still standing church of S. Sergius and 
S. Bacchus, called by the people " little S. Sophia," built 


The Ancient City 

about 527 by Justinian himself. This prepares the 
way for almost every feature which appears developed 
and completed in the great S. Sophia itself. The two 
most striking characteristics of the new style are the 
impost capital and the merging of subsidiary spaces in 
one central building. 

The impost capital is probably first seen in the great 
cistern, also of Justinian's day. I may here repeat 
what I have said elsewhere. ^ 

" Strzygowski 2 regards this impost-capital as the 
work of the builder of the great cistern, who he thinks 
may have been Anthemius, here proving his fitness for 
the great work of S. Sophia. It was, he shows, an 
architectural revolution. The capital, with undercut 
volutes, was suitable for a straight architrave, but 
not for the arch. Hence a piece was inserted to 
transfer the weight from the angles to the centre. 
The Theodosian age used an inserted impost. The 
constructive activity of the age of Justinian produced 
the impost-capital. 

As to design, the capitals lying neglected about 
the city, together with those in situ in the churches 
and cisterns, furnish a perfect museum of the types 
with which others, dispersed over the whole area 
of the empire, agree in the minutest particulars of 
design and workmanship. The acanthus leaves, so 
familiar through all the work of the centuries — from 
the Golden Gate (388) onward, and the portico 
to S. John of the Studium a century later — assume 
the beautiful "windblown" design in the ruins near 
the " Rose Mosque." ^ 

The second feature is the arrangement which unites 
the longitudinal with the central building and makes 

* Church of the Sixth Century, pp. 259, 260. 

^ Bijzant. Zeitschrift, i, 65. 

*See Curtis, Broken Bits of Bi^zantium, ii. 54, 56. 


The Story of Constantinople 

the whole effect of the interior of one piece by re- 
lating every piece of work, pillar, arch, semi-dome, 
to the one vast central dome which crowns the whole. 
From without, but more clearly from within, the 
architecture of S. Sophia is seen to form one entire 
and perfect whole. It is impossible to conceive it 
deprived of a single feature without the sacrifice ot 
the whole. To mutilate would be to destroy. 

Seen then in its grandeur at S. Sophia the work 
of Justinian changed the appearance of the whole 
city. Procopius in his" Aedificia" records what was 
when he wrote in 558, a complete list of what had 
been built in the reign. Everywhere there were 
arising, as though by an enchanter's wand, palaces, 
churches, baths, aqueducts, great cisterns supported 
on exquisitely carved columns, new markets, houses for 
the great nobles, barracks, hospitals, convents. The 
splendour and beauty of the new city, its richness 
of decoration, marbles, statuary, mosaics, struck all 
beholders with amaze. The chroniclers, who in other 
times would have been satisfied to tell of military 
successes and court intrigues, now tell of measure- 
ments and designs, and collect lists of gems and 
splendours of decoration. The reign of Justinian, 
in spite of many foreign dangers, and oppression 
at home, is the most magnificent period of early 
Byzantine history ; and the magnificence seemed to 
be expressed in the buildings of Constantinople. 

When Procopius in his Edifices has told of the 
glories of S. Sophia, he goes on to speak of the 
Augusteum and its statues. Chiefest among them, one 
of Justinian himself as Achilles. Then S. Irene, then 
the churches of the Blessed Virgin at the Blachernae 
and at Balukli beyond the triumphal way. Church 
after church follows in his tale, and chief among them 
those which the mariner sees as he sails up the Golden 

The Ancient City 

Horn. ** As to the other buildings, it would be 
hard to name them all." The Hospice of Samson 
rose again from its ruins, probably close by where 
the gate of the old Seraglio now stands. The baths 
of Xeuxippus, which lasted down to the time of 
Mohammed the Conqueror, with the other buildings 
near the Augusteum and the forum of Constantine, 
were restored. " In addition to this he rebuilt and 
added great magnificence to the house named after 
Hormisdas, which stands close to the palace, to which 
he joined it," — that pathetic ruin whose broken wall 
hangs over the Marmora to-day. When the eulogist 
comes to the palace itself, words fail him to repeat 
its glories, the pictures, mosaics, marbles, that combine 
to make the walls glitter as with life. After works of 
beauty come those of use, and the cisterns receive 
as much praise as works more brilliant yet hardly 
more beautiful. 

It is buildings such as these that enable us to see 
what Justinian was to the capital of his Empire. 
Every year it seemed that new victories and new 
conversions were increasing the power of the Empire 
and the Church. While Belisarius reconquered Italy 
and made the name of the Caesar again honoured 
at Rome and Ravenna, ended the cruel rule of the 
Vandals in Africa and Sicily, crushed the Goths of 
Spain, and kept the strong Persian prince at bay on 
the eastern frontier of the empire. Christian missions 
spread the faith of the orthodox Church to the 
Caucasus and the Sudan. Again and again did proces- 
sions of returning warriors pass along the triumphal way, 
but the Emperor alone entered by the Golden Gate. 
It was in the Hippodrome that Belisarius celebrated his 
triumph over the Vandals. It was nigh six hundred 
years, Procopius thought, since any had had the 
same. But Belisarius walked with a proud humility 


The Story of Constantinople 

from his own house to the Hippodrome, and thence 
from his own tent to the imperial throne. The rich 
spoils that were spread out were the treasures of all the 
years of Vandal conquest, and among them some of the 
vessels that Titus had brought from the temple at Jeru- 
salem and Generic the Vandal conqueror had taken 
from Rome. These Justinian gave to churches in the 
Holy City. As the captives were led up to the im- 


perlal throne all eyes were fixed on the Vandal chief, 
Gelimer, wearing the purple, as in mockery, with 
his kindred about him, '' himself the tallest and most 
beautiful of the Vandals." As he walked up to the 
throne he looked up, and uttering no lament for his 
fallen state, said with the poet's simple feeling, *' Vanity 
of vanities." They stripped him of his robe and made 
him fall on his face before the Emperor. Beside him 
knelt his conqueror, and supplicated for his pardon, 
and the day was crowned by generosity such as the 
Emperor loved to show and the people to applaud. 
Such scenes became familiar to the people as the 


The Ancient City 

years of victory rolled on. They saw, too, Belisarius, 
drawn through the streets in his chariot by the captives 
of his wars, when he received the dignity of Patrician. 
The empire of Justinian, based upon the old laws which 
he collected and enlarged, cherishing the traditions of 
old Rome, was eager to revive every glory of former 
days. " And then," says Procopius, who himself the 
bitterest of satirists of the present, looked not unkindly 
on the past, " men saw things long forgotten thus 
renewed by time." But the picture, brilliant though 
it was, was not unclouded. The city of the Caesars 
was again and again threatened by barbarians and struck 
by the visitation of God. In 542 Constantinople was 
devastated by a terrible pestilence, the bubonic plague, 
that has lost none of its terrors in fifteen hundred years. 
For four months it raged, and at its height Procopius 
declares that as many as ten thousand perished in a day. 
It spared no constitution and no age, and God alone 
could be the cause of it. Justinian, who was one of 
the few who recovered, was assiduous in charitable aid ; 
but the loss to the city could hardly be conceived — no 
trades, no shops, says the recorder of many horrors, 
remained, and *' many for fear leaving their bad courses, 
consecrated themselves to God, and many when the 
danger was passed fell to their old despising of God 

After plagues came famines and earthquakes, and 
in the last year of the reign, the dread army of the 
Huns, under Zabergan, drew nigh even to the walls 
of Constantinople, murdering and ravaging as they 
came. Hastily the treasures of the church northwards 
of the city were brought for safety within the walls, 
and Belisarius in old age again came forward to save 
the empire. It was his last victory, and seven years 
later he passed away, honoured and beloved. The 
Emperor himself died but a few weeks later in Nov- 


The Story of Constantinople 

ember 565. The glories of the reign had passed 
away before the aged ruler laid down his power ; but 
he left a reconquered Empire and a capital that was 
the wonder of the world. 

He left too a memory as a theologian, which the 
church for some centuries continued specially to honour 
in her most solemn service. Justinian, the legislator, 
the builder and the organizer of victory, seemed to 
the vision of Dante to dwell like the sun in perpetual 

Si come'l sol, che si cela egli stessi 
Per troppa luce, quando il caldo ha rose 
Le temperanze de' vapori spessi ; 
Per piu letizia si mi si nascose 
Dento ai suo raggio la figura santa. 

To this aspect of his life we can give here but little 
attention ; but it is not to be doubted that it was as a 
theologian that the men of his Constantinople heard 
most of their ruler's doings. Far into the dark hours, 
says the chronicler of his reign, he sat writing the 
theological treatises which expressed the teaching oi 
the Church ; night after night he would study in his 
library the writings of the Fathers, and the Sacred 
Scriptures, with some learned prelates or monks at 
hand, that he might discuss with them the questions 
as they rose before his mind. From the time of his 
predecessor he had been engaged in corresponding with 
Popes on theological points, and when he became sole 
ruler he determined once for all to settle the side issues 
which depended on the great Monophysite contest. 
Edict after edict, letter after letter, treatises closely 
argued and tightly packed with })atristic and scriptural 
learning, and even hymns, showed the restless activity of 
the imperial theologian. When in 5 3 5 Anthemius of 
Trebizond was made Patriarch of Constantinople, and 
when Pope Agapetus came on a mission from the 

The Ancient Ciiy 

Gothic King Theodahad, the discussion of articles of 
the faith brought the deposition of the patriarch as a 
monophysite, and the succession of Mennas, head of 
the hospice of Samson. Then came the conflict with 
the Origenists, which led indirectly to the controversy 
of " the Three Chapters " and the session of the Fifth 
General Council. Of this it were here a weariness to 
tell. Let it suffice to say that on May 5, 553, the 
Council met in the southern gallery of the great Church 
of the Divine Wisdom. The Pope himself was at 
Constantinople but he would not attend the sessions. 
He was lodged at first in the royal palace of Placidia 
at the eastern end of the promontory, beyond S. Irene, 
looking over the sea to Asia and the churches of 
Chalcedon. Then he fled by night to cross the Bos- 
phorus and took refuge in the Church of S. Euphemia 
at Chalcedon where a hundred years before the council 
had sat. Embassies crossed and recrossed the sea ; 
even the great general Belisarius was an envoy, but 
Vigilius, when the Council met, refused to join it, to 
speak, or to vote : and the Council made short work 
of the foolish, bombastic, hesitating pontiff. It con- 
demned those who refused to receive its decisions and 
struck Vigilius out of the diptychs on which were in- 
scribed the names of those prayed for at the Eucharist. 
But if there was no Roman patriarch present, there 
was the new patiiarch of Constantinople, Eutychius, 
and the patriarchs of Alexandria and Antioch, while 
he of Jerusalem sent proxies. To the decisions of the 
council a hundred and sixty-four signatures were 
affixed. Theologians still contest as to whether it was 
a free and open council ; but it was accepted beyond 
question, though after some years, by the whole Church. 
It did its work : it safeguarded the Catholic faith by 
stripping bare the meaning of statements which in- 
directly attacked the Divine and Human Natures of the 


The Story of Constantinople 

Incarnate Son. It condemned these subtle suggestions, 
and it preserved to the Church the real Christ of 
Whom she had learned. 

These theological questions stand out, it may seem 
to some to-day, too boldly in the history of the New 
Rome : but they know little of the capital of the East 
who do not know how close to its life lie these matters 
of dogma and definition. The very tradesmen at their 
work talked of them, as they talked in the time of 
Gregory ; and there was nothing which the crowds 
who thronged the markets and the basilicas in the days 
of Justinian more readily or more constantly discussed. 
Constantinople in these first centuries of her life had 
the theological interest closest to her heart ; as the 
years went on the needs of defence brought the 
military interest to the top. 

The city in Justinian's days was rich and full of 
bread. All the glory of the world seemed there to be 
gathered together, and with it the vice, which stern 
laws and the charitable institutions, founded by the 
imperial sovereigns, endeavoured as best they could to 
conquer or to heal. The thronged markets sold every 
kind of goods, for commerce or luxury. The monks 
who brought the silkworm from China to the Emperor's 
court enabled him to found an industry which added 
greatly to resources of his empire and the prosperity of 
his people. The mosaics, which glittered on the walls 
of the churches, were made by skilled artists in the 
city itself — carved work, images (the icons which the 
Greek Church has never ceased to love), jewellery, 
beautifully wrought, were among the manufactures of 
the great trading centre of the East ; and the military 
engines for which the Eastern army was renowned were 
made within the walls of the capital itself. The pages 
of Procopius and Agathias, of Lydus and John of 
Ephesus, show a busy hurrying life, elaborate adminis- 


The Media val City 

trative arrangements, official classes greedy and exclu- 
sive, popular agitations hasty and fickle, an accumu- 
lating luxury with all its accompaniments of oppression, 
avarice, and vulgar show. The millionaires of the 
sixth century, with their gout, their costly equipages, 
and their summer palaces on the Bosphorus or at 
Chalcedon, were a prominent feature in the life of the 
great city. Beside them were the dusky traders from 
the far East, the hordes of bearded monks ever ready to 
join in the logical squabbles or take part in popular riots, 
and the silent barbarian soldiers, opening wondering 
eyes on the disputes and the splendours of the imperial 
city, and prompt at the word of command to dethrone 
emperors or massacre their foes. In such a city it 
would have been strange if there were order or peace ; 
and indeed the constant complaint of the chroniclers is 
of nobles, clerics and artizans, whom it was impossible 
to restrain. Yet amid this scene of confusion at any 
moment the imperial power might show itself with 
arbritrary and brutal abruptness. When a servant maid 
by mischance spat on the robe of the dead Empress 
Eudocia as it was carried to the tomb she was executed 
immediately and without protest. 

3. From Justin II. to the Latin Conquest. 

In 565 Justinian died, and the glory of his reign set 
in a dull glow that heralded storms. Justin II., his 
nephew, was a tyrant and a madman, but it was power 
which brought out his tyranny and his madness. When 
he came to the throne he spoke mildly and well. He 
made professions and promises in public places, before 
the masses of the population. 

They were strange scenes, such as the people of 
Byzantium often saw, and strangest of all to our minds 
is that which shows the citizens in the place of public 


7 he Story of Constantinople 

games clamouring before the imperial throne for the 
payment of the debts of Justinian. 

Constantinople is still the same. Even when it 
looks cowed, it has still its impudence and its deter- 
mination to criticise. Justin's doings were watched 
and mocked at, as if he had been the humblest trades- 
man, by the city jesters. He built a golden chamber in 
the palace by the sea : he set up a pillar to record his 
virtues, and then some one affixed a tablet on it : 

Build, build aloft thy pillar, 

And raise it vast and high ; 
Then mount and stand upon it, 

Soar proudly in the sky ; 
East, south and north, and westward, 

Wherever thou shalt gaze, 
Nought shalt thou see but ruins, 

The work of thine own days. 

Meanwhile the barbarians were coming nearer to 
the Empire. The Avars demanded tribute, and the 
Turks, a name that was so soon to be a familiar terror, 
sent envoys to the Csesar's court. The enemies, it 
might seem, were already closing in when Justin became 
a lunatic, bursting into mad fits of rage, and drawn about 
the palace in a toy cart, while the " whole sepate and 
city '* knew of the sad fate of their Emperor. Sophia, 
his wife, had all the masterful genius of her aunt 
Theodora. It was she who gave the rule to 
Tiberius II., under whom the empire steadily de- 
cayed, Maurice, his successor, was a severe ruler, 
whom the people learned to hate. When at last his 
reign ended in a revolution and a flight, it was the 
people of Constantinople, the denies and the factions 
of the Circus, who gave him to death, and placed the 
imperial crown on the head of Phocas, his successor. 

While Constantinople thus dethroned and set up 
the civil rulers of the Empire, it was claiming for its 


The Mediaval City 

patriarch the highest position in the Church. When 
at the beginning of the sixth century the patriarch 
John had signed the formula drawn up by Pope 
Hormisdas, he repudiated any claim to superiority 
on the part of the old Rome : the two cities and the 
two Sees he declared were one. As early as 5 1 8 the 
patriarch of Constantinople called himself " universal 
bishop": in 595 the great Pope Gregory, who had 
himself, as a papal envoy, seen the greatness of the 
Eastern See, vigorously protested, to the Emperor 
Maurice, against the assumption to the title. But 
while the patriarchs used the title in no exclusive 
sense, they were determined, as they are determined 
to-day, to assert the independence of their See and 
its equality with that of Rome. 

Ecclesiastical independence did not preserve the 
Empire from political weakness. Phocas was soon 
seen to be worse than Maurice, and one conspiracy 
after another was begun in the Hippodrome and ended 
by a massacre in the streets. The Green faction in the 
Circus called the Emperor a drunkard and a madman 
to his face. Famine and pestilence ravaged the 
crowded city, and when Heraclius, already a re- 
nowned general, brought his fleet up the Hellespont 
and anchored at the Golden Horn the collapse of the 
power of Phocas was immediate, and a new Emperor 
was crowned in the church of S. Philip within the 
palace. The reign of Heraclius, gallant man though 
he was, began in almost unbroken disaster, and when 
in 615 Jerusalem fell into the hands of the Persians 
it seemed that the end was at hand. In the next year, 
as had already happened under Phocas, a Persian 
army encamped at Chalcedon. When negotiations 
were in vain, when Heraclius had even formed the 
idea of transferring the seat of Empire from Constan- 
tinople to Carthage, and had only abandoned it after 

D 49 

The Story of Constantinople 

his preparations were far advanced, when the terror 
and indignation of the people forced him to take oath 
before the patriarch in S. Sophia that he would never 
leave "the Queen of Cities," at length the courage of 
the empire awoke, the nobles sacrificed their wealth 
and the churches their treasures, the fleet utterlv de- 
stroyed that of the Persians, and Heraclius delivered 
the city and the empire by a march as brilliant as it was 
daring. Leading five thousand veterans across Asia 
Minor and through the mountains he ** penetrated into the 
heart of Persia and recalled the armies of the great king 
to the defence of their bleeding country." After three 
campaigns he returned in triumph and entered, as no 
Emperor since Theodosius the Great had done, by the 
Golden Gate. 

In his absence thirty thousand Avars, who had 
swept over the Balkan provinces like a devouring 
flame, broke through the great wall and encamped 
under the very walls of the city itself. Churches in 
the suburbs were burnt to the ground and the famous 
Church of the Theotokos in Blachernae was on the 
point of being destroyed, when some panic caused 
the Avar horsemen to retire. The danger was too 
obvious for the warning to be neglected, and the 
Senate, which had refused with contumely the offers 
of the barbarian leaders, allies of the Persian King, 
drove back the enemy and immediately increased the 
fortifications by a new wall. This splendid barrier, 
magnificent to-day in its ruins, stretched from the 
enclosure outside the palace of Blachernae, at the foot 
of the sixth hill, to the Golden Horn. It is flanked 
by three hexagonal towers. 

A year later, in 627, the Emperor, who dreaded 
even the sight of the sea, crossed the Bosphorus by a 
bridge of boats, decked with branches of trees to 
imitate a forest. Landing north of the city he marched 


The Mcdiaval City 

inland and crossed the valley at the head of the Golden 
Horn — below the " Sweet Waters of Europe " — by a 
bridge made by Justinian nearly opposite the end of 
the walls. So along the triumphal way he went, past 
the new walls that have ever since borne his name, and 
entered by the Golden Gate, the Emperor who had 
vanquished the Persians, saved his empire, and brought 
back the greatest of all relics, the sacred wood of the 
true Cross, which S. Helena, the mother of Constan- 
tine, had found near Calvary. 

But Heraclius was not to triumph unchecked. The 
fatal temptation of theological strife conquered even 
the conqueror of the Persians, and the beginning of the 
Monothelite controversy dates from the Ekthesis of 
Sergius the patriarch, a document which, if it were 
intended to make peace, certainly provoked war, that 
was not ended, though its area was defined, by the 
decision of the Sixth General Council, which met 
at Constantinople in 680, and condemned those who 
denied that Christ had two wills, human and divine. 

The dreary years of the latter half of the seventh 
century may be rapidly summarised. Constantinople 
saw the settlement of barbarians, Slaves and Bulgars, 
almost at its gates. Emperor succeeded emperor with- 
out anyone appearing who was worthy to be the heir 
of Heraclius. At length in 672 the Saracens, who 
had long devastated Asia, brought a fleet up the Helles- 
pont and besieged the city. Their total defeat by 
Constantine IV., whom his people nicknamed Pogo- 
natus (the bearded), was the greatest triumph of the 
Christian powers against the infidel ; it was won, it is 
said, by the newly-discovered " Greek fire," so long 
to be the terror of the foes of the Empire. Con- 
stantinople proved herself the bulwark of Europe against 
the infidel. The nations of the West sent their envoys 
to applaud. Six hundred years later another Constantine 


Tihe Story of Constantinople 

was to fall, when his city was at length captured by 
the followers of Mohammed. 

Justinian II., the son of Constantine Pogonatus, was 
a great builder like his namesake, whom probably he 
sought to imitate ; but in character he was far from 
resembling the builder of S. Sophia. In the inimitable 
phrases of Gibbon, *' The name of a triumphant law- 
giver was dishonoured by the vices of a boy. . . 
His passions were strong ; his understanding was 
feeble ; and he was intoxicated with a foolish pride 
that his birth had given him the command of millions, 
of whom the smallest community would not have chosen 
him for their local magistrate. His favourite ministers 
were two beings the least susceptible of human sym- 
pathy, an eunuch and a monk ; to the one he abandoned 
a palace, to the other the finances ; the former cor- 
rected the Emperor's mother with a scourge, the latter 
suspended the insolvent tributaries, with their heads 
downwards, over a slow and smoky fire. Since the 
days of Commodus and Caracalla, the cruelty of the 
Roman princes had most commonly been the effect of 
their fear ; but Justinian, who possessed some vigour of 
character, enjoyed the sufferings and braved the revenge 
of his subjects about ten years, till the measure was full 
of his crimes and of their patience.'* 

The attempt to banish a popular general whom he 
had long imprisoned was the occasion of a revolt which 
cast the Emperor from the throne ; and the hippo- 
drome saw again an act of tragic vengeance, when the 
tongue and nose of the fallen Caesar were slit in the 
presence of the people who had borne with him too 

Let Professor Bury's summary continue the tale : — 
"The twenty years which intervened between the banish- 
ment of Justinian in 695 and the accession of Leo the 
Isaurian in 7 1 7 witnessed a rapid succession of monarchs, 



The Medieval City 

all of whom were violently deposed. Isaurian Leon- 
tius was succeeded by Apsimar, who adopted the name 
Tiberius, and tliese two reigns occupied the first ten 
years. Then Justinian returned from exile, recovered 
the throne, and 'furiously raged' for six years (705- 
711). He was overthrown by Bardanes, who called 
himself Philippicus ; then came Artemius, whose im- 
perial name was Anastasius ; and finally the years 7 1 6 
and 7 I 7 saw the fall of Anastasius, the reign and fall of 
Theodosius, and the accession of Isaurian Leo, whose 
strong arm guided the Empire from ways of anarchy 
into a new path." ^ 

In the tragedies of these years Constantinople bore its 
full share, and no more strange contrast to the scene 
of his barbarous mutilation could be imagined than that 
when Justinian II. sat again, ten years later (705) in 
the hippodrome, with his feet on the necks of the 
two monarchs who had filled his throne in the mean- 
time. As the fickle people saw the " slit-nose," as 
they called him, triumphant over Leontius and Ap- 
simar they called out in tlie words of the psalms, 
which came so readily to their lips, *' Thou hast 
trodden upon the lion and the asp : the young lion and 
the dragon hast thou trodden under thy feet." 

Six years later (711) there was a more terrible 
tragedy. Justinian was justly dethroned and slain, 
and his little boy Tiberius, the child of his exile, was 
torn from the church of the Theotokos at Blachernae 
and cruelly butchered outside the palace wall. The 
next years were stained by crimes and follies hardly 
less revolting than those that had gone before ; there 
could be no more bitter irony than the single word 
which the humble tax-gatherer, who was elevated 
against his will to the imperial throne under the name 
of Theodosius III., inscribed upon his tomb — jyisia. — 

^ Later Roman Empire, ii. 352. 


The Story of Constantinople 

health was to be found nowhere for the empire in his 

His successor, Leo the Isaurian, whom the Senate 
and the patriarch of Constantinople chose in 718 to 
be their lord, had seen an adventurous life, and was 
already the general and imperator of the great eastern 

His first task was to defend the city against the 
Saracens. The great siege of 718, lasting twelve 
months, failed chiefly through his skill and patience. 
The invaders encamped before the city in August 717; 
the name of their Suleiman was one which was later 
to be very familiar to the Byzantines. When winter 
came it was one of those bitter seasons to which Con- 
stantinople is often subject. For many weeks snow 
lay on the ground, and the besiegers suffered far more 
than the garrison. Leo defended the city with extra- 
ordinary skill, and at length, at the right moment, by 
a well planned sortie he scattered the infidels, and of the 
great host of a hundred and eighty thousand men the 
Mohammedan historians say that only thirty thousand 
escaped back to the East. No greater feat was ever 
performed by the great empire, the bulwark of 
Christendom, than this heroic defence and splendid 

It was not wholly the work of Leo, for the Bul- 
garians came from the north to his aid, and a pestilence, 
even before the storms of the Dardanelles destroyed 
their fleet, caused the withdrawal of the Saracen host. 
Then as an administrator he reformed the government, 
as a legist he reissued and revised the laws. The great 
earthquake of 739 caused the institution of a new tax, 
if not a new financial system. 

" Some of the oldest monuments in the city were 
thrown down by the shock, the statue of Constantine 
the Great, at the cate of Attalus ; the statue and 


The Medieval City 

sculptured column of Arcadius ; the statue of Theo- 
dosius I., over the Golden Gate, and the church of 
Irene, close to S. Sophia. The land walls of the 
city were also subverted ; and in order to repair the 
fortifications Leo increased the taxes by one-twelfth, 
or a miliarision in a nomisma." 

Thus Professor Bury.i But to such acts, important 
though they were, Leo the Isaurian does not owe the 
fact that his name will never be forgotten in the history 
of the Empire which he ruled. It was he who began 
the attack upon the ancient custom of the Eastern 
churches which gave rise to the long and bitter icono- 
clastic controversy. It were idle for a Western 
accustomed to the severity and restraint of English 
worship to pretend to judge without partiality the 
conflict which arose in the eighth century among the 
Easterns. To Englishmen it comes with a shock of 
surprise to learn that they are regarded as Romanists, 
as has recently happened, because they do not use 
incense in every public service of the Church, accord- 
ing to the ancient usage of the East. Similarly it is 
with diffidence that we learn to recognise the reverence 
paid to icons, pictures of sacred things, as a true and 
helpful part of Oriental devotion. It tends, we think, 
to superstition ; as much perhaps as our grandfathers' 
pride in the black gown of the preacher, or the curious 
customs which led in England to the " plethoric 
Sunday afternoon." Leo the Isaurian, and after him 
his son, Constantine V. (nicknamed Copronymus by his 
people, probably "from his devotion to the stables"), 
of whom the latter certainly had no sense of the 
reality of religion, embarked on an ill-omened attempt 
to purge from the Church, and to destroy in the sacred 
buildings themselves, all the brilliant pictures and 
mosaics which commemorated the saints and received 
^ Vol. ii., p. 423. 


The Story of Co?istantitiople 

the homage, bordering no doubt on superstition, of the 
faithful. They objected that it was a sin to represent 
Christ in art at all ; and that the representation of 
His Mother tended to the exaltation of her name into 
that of a Divinity. " Apostles of rationalism " these 
Emperors have strangely been called, who fought 
against an ineradicable passion of their people. As 
dear to the hearts of the Greek Christians as their 
subtle questionings into the deep meanings of divine 
things, their determination to be satisfied with nothing 
less than a precise and logical definition of the faith 
once for all given to the saints, was their craving for 
outward and visible signs to represent the gifts of God 
at once in the Divine Life and in the lives of the 
saintly followers of the Lord, and their own reverence 
and consecration of all that was beautiful in the work 
of man. The force of Mohammedanism had lain in 
its austere rejection of any outward image of Divine 
things ; heretics, Judaising or Monophysite, had from 
time to time taken up the cry against these innocent 
representations of the saints. If the *' worship " of 
images tended to obscure the spiritual truth of religion, 
the destruction of all visible memorials of the saints, 
emblems of the divine attributes, or representations of 
the passion of Christ, was even more certain to tell 
against the real belief of a race at once ignorant and 
dramatic, to whom the eye was the constant teacher of 
the mind. However strange and unedifying the rever- 
ence paid to icons may seem to the modern Western 
mind, it is but the shallowest ignorance which would 
call it idolatry, and it is plain that any hasty attempt to 
interfere with the popular expression of religious ideas 
must tend, if hastily and unskilfully conducted, to 
impair the faith of the people itself. Led by men 
who were believed by the enthusiastic and conservatiNe 
Byzantines to be influenced by Monophysites, Jews 


The Mediaval City 

and Mohammedans, it was certain to provoke a desper- 
ate resistance, and that the more widespread because 
the issue was not an intricate matter of scholastic 
teaching, but a plain issue of practice in which every 
day passions were deeply concerned. 

In 726, almost, it would seem, without warning, the 
Emperor Leo issued an edict that all images in churches 
should be utterly abolished. The patriarch, rather than 
consent to the action, resigned his office. The story 
of what followed may be given in the words of Mr 

" The work of destruction now commenced in earnest ; 
the statues were everywhere removt^d, and the pictures 
on the walls were whitewashed over, and though 
numerous outbreaks occurred, and some executions 
took place before it was accomplished, yet on the 
whole the opposition was not formidable. The act 
which caused the greatest indignation was the removal 
of the magnificent image of Christ which surmounted 
the bronze gateway of the imperial palace, and was 
the object of great reverence. In order to take down 
this statue and burn it, a soldier of the guard had 
mounted a ladder, when a number of women assembled 
at the spot to beg that it might be spared ; but, 
instead of listening to them, the soldier struck his axe 
into the face of the image. Infuriated by this, which 
appeared to them to be an insult offered to the Saviour 
Himself, they dragged the ladder from under his feet 
and killed him. The Emperor avenged his agent by 
executing some, and exiling others, of the offenders, 
and set up in the place of the statue a plain cross, with 
an inscription explaining the significance of the change. 

" In the defence of images there stood forth two 
champions, the one in the West, the other in the 
East ; and the points of view from which they 

* The Church and the Eastern Empire^ pp, lc6-lo8. 


The Story of Constantinople 

respectively regarded them illustrate the different 
feelings of the two churches on the subject. The 
former of these was Pope Gregory II., who at first 
strongly remonstrated with the Emperor on his edict, 
and afterwards, when he endeavoured to enforce its 
observance in Italy, encouraged his people to disregard 
the order, and defied his nominal sovereign in violent 
and even insulting language. At last he excommuni- 
cated his nominee, the patriarch Anastasius. But he 
advocated the retention of images on the practical 
ground of their utility in instructing the young and 
ignorant, and as being an incentive to devotion. Far 
more exalted and more subtly defined was the position 
attributed to them by the other advocate, who spoke 
from the distant East. This was John of Damascus, 
otherwise known as S, John Damascene, the last of 
the Fathers of the Greek Church. This learned and 
acute theologian, who in many ways was superior to 
the age in which he lived, at one time filled a civil 
post of some importance under the Caliphs, who now 
ruled in Syria, but afterwards retired to the monastery 
of S. Saba, in the wilderness of Engedi, the strange 
position of which, overhanging a deep gorge that leads 
down to the Dead Sea, is still the wonder of the 
traveller. As he lived in the dominion of the Sara- 
cens he was beyond the reach of the Emperor's arm, 
and now undertook the cause of his suffering co- 
religionists. In three powerful addresses he set forth 
his arguments for image worship. Some of them 
follow the familiar lines of defence, that these objects 
were memorials of the mysteries of the faith ; and that 
in the adoration of them the spiritual was reached 
through the medium of the material. But beyond this 
he made it plain that, to his mind, and the minds of 
those who thought with him, the worship of images 
was closely connected with the doctrine of the Incar- 

The Mediaeval City 

nation, the earthly material having been once for all 
sanctified when the Son of God took human flesh, 
and being thenceforth worthy of all honour. From 
this we may learn both how it came to pass that the 
most religious men of the age became enthusiasts for 
what was in itself superstitious, and also what was the 
cardinal point of difference between them and their 
opponents. For, while the one side regarded figures 
of Christ as a degradation of a heavenly being, to the 
other they were a practical confession of His true 
humanity, and any disregard of them appeared in the 
light of a denial of the Incarnation. At last, when it 
was found that the Emperor persevered in his attack, 
the iconoclasts were anathematised by the orthodox 
congregations in all the Mahometan countries outside 
the Empire. Both John and Gregory protested 
throughout against the interference of the State with 
the Church in this matter as being beyond its pro- 
vince ; and, owing to the close connection which 
existed between the clergy and the people, they were 
generally regarded as the assertors of liberty and 
of the right of private judgment in opposition to 

The indirect effects of Leo's action were even more 
important than the obvious ones. The division which 
ensued between Italy, resisting iconoclasm under the 
Pope's authority, and the imperial power made the 
Emperor decide to transfer to the patriarch of Con- 
stantinople the jurisdiction over Sicily and Calabria, 
leaving to the Pope that over the exarchate of 
Ravenna which still nominally obeyed the Caesar. 
The meaning of this is thus expressed by Professor 

" The effect of this act of Leo, which went far 
to decide the mediaeval history of Southern Italy, 
was to bring the boundary between the ecclesiastical 


The Story of Constantinople 

dominions of New Rome and Old Rome into co- 
incidence with the boundary between the Greek and 
the Latin nationahties. In other words, it laid the 
basis of the distinction between the Greek and the 
Latin Churches. The only part of the Empire in 
which the Pope now possessed authority was the 
exarchate, including Rome, Ravenna and Venice. 
The geographical position of Naples, intermediate 
between Rome and the extremities of Italy, deter- 
mined that its sympathies should be drawn in two 
directions ; in religious matters it inclined towards 
Old Rome, in political matters it was tenacious of 
its loyalty to New Rome." ^ 

But this was not all. An immigration of persecuted 
monks and priests as well as lay folk, begun long 
before, practically recolonised mucli of Southern Italy. 

Constantine Copronymus was far more eager than 
his father to push the iconoclastic campaign. In 
761 he began a deliberate and bitter persecution of 
those who opposed him. Already, under Leo the 
Isaurian, the virgin Theodosia had been martyred. 
Her festival is still kept on May 29, and the church 
raised to her memory still stands transformed into a 
mosque just within the Aya Kapou, on the Golden 
Horn. Many whom the Greek Church still com- 
memorates were now slain and others tortured. Con- 
stantine was equally hostile to monks, and he was as 
bitter against his creatures whom he suspected as 
against those who openly disputed his will. The 
patriarch whom he had set up fell into disgrace in 
spite of his support of iconoclasm. He was degraded 
in S. Sophia, carried round the Hippodrome sitting 
backwards on an ass, and at last beheaded as a traitor. 

The successor of Constantine, Leo IV., was signifi- 
cant only in that he followed his policy of persecution. 
^ Vol. ii., p. 446. 

The Mediaval City 

He left the crown in 780 to his son Constantine and 
his widow Irene. Conspiracies, real or alleged, of 
his brothers were bitterly punished. The Empress 
Irene was satisfied so long as her son was still a boy to 
allow him a nominal share in the government ; but 
when he grew up and showed an independent spirit, 
she used the growing unpopularity which came upon him 
after his repudiation oi Jbis wife to raise a party against 
him, and hired troops to take his life. He escaped 
death only to lose his eyes, and his wicked mother, 
surrounded by degraded favourites, reigned alone. It 
was she whom the great Teutonic King Charles was 
ready to wed, and the failure of the negotiations led, 
with other more notable causes, to the creation of the 
new empire of the West, so long held by German 
CjTsars, but professing still to be — as that of Con- 
stantinople historically was — the heir of the ancient 
em])ire of the Roman world. 

Wicked as Irene was, it was given to her to restore 
peace to the Church, and to reunite though only for a 
time the Catholic Church throughout the world. So 
completely was the popular feeling against the icono- 
clasts that it needed little of the intrigue or violence 
which Irene was so ready to use to secure the result 
she desired. In 786, when her worst passions had not 
been revealed and she still lived in union with her son, 
the seventh General Council met at Nicaea. It was 
attended by representatives from Italy as well as from 
the East, and as its decisions represent the use and 
teaching of the Eastern Church to-day, they may here 
be summarised. "At the seventh sitting (5th or 6th 
October), the definition (o|Co;) of doctrine was drawn 
up ; after a summary repetition of the chief points of 
theology established by previous Universal Councils, it 
is laid down that the figure of the holy cross and holy 
images, whether coloured or plain, whether consisting of 


The Story of Constantuiople 

stone or of any other material, may be represented on 
vessels, garment, walls or tables, in houses or on public 
roads ; especially figures of Christ, the Virgin, angels, or 
holy men : such representations, it is observed, stimulate 
spectators to think of the originals, and, while they 
must not be adored with that worship which is only for 
God (Xarpt/a), deserve adoration [^poa^iiw^aic)^ ^ 
More strictly, the Council decreed that icons were to be 
used and adored like the cross and the gospels. 

But Irene's services to the Church were not allowed 
then, any more than we should allow them now, to pre- 
serve her in power. The stars in their courses seemed 
to the superstitious to fight against her, and, though she 
held the crown she had so ill-won for five years, the end 
came at last by the treachery of those she had raised to 
highest place. " For five years," says Gibbon, " the 
Roman world bowed to the government of a female ; 
and, as she moved through the streets of Constantinople, 
the reins of four milk-white steeds were held by as 
many patricians, who marched on foot before the golden 
chariot of their queen. '^ But among the patricians whom 
she had chosen was the treasurer Nicephorus, who on 
October 31, 802, having captured his benefactress, and 
with some spark of generosity, undestroyed by his 
ambition and his avarice, sent her to banishment rather 
than to death, ascended the throne of the Cjesars. 

With him began a new dynasty, a new century, and 
in some ways a new era for the imperial city. 

During the eighth century Constantinople, as a city, 
underwent a great change. This was not merely due 
to the incessant ebb and flow of population, the coming 
and going of different detachments of the imperial army, 
the founding of new monasteries by men from all parts 
of the Christian world, the opening of new commercial 
establishments, the coming of new trading embassies, 
1 Bury, vol. ii., pp. 497-498. 


The Media veil City 

but to one great and iiremediable disaster. From 
745 to 747 the city was devastated by the plague, that 
bubonic distemper, so familiar already but now more 
terribly destructive than ever before. The words of 
Theophanes, who lived when the remembrance of it 
was still fresh, though they have been often quoted, 
may be quoted again. They stand side by side with 
the modern records of the still powerful pestilence. 

"And in the spring of the first indiction (747) the 
pestilence spread to a greater extent, and in summer its 
flame culminated to such a height that whole houses 
were entirely shut up, and those on whom the oflfice 
devolved could not bury their dead. In the embarrass- 
ment of the circumstances, the plan was conceived of 
carrying out the dead on saddled animals, on whose 
backs were placed frameworks of planks. In the same 
way they placed the corpses above one another in 
waggons. And when all the burying-grounds in the 
city and suburbs had been filled, and also the dry 
cisterns and tanks, and very many vineyards had been 
dug up, the gardens too within the old walls were used 
for the purpose of burying human bodies, and even thus 
the need was hardly met." 

The effect of the great loss of life which ensued was 
felt at once. At the very time when multitudes were 
seeking refuge in Italy from the iconoclastic persecution, 
came this new depopulation, and Constantine found 
himself obliged to encourage, and even enforce, immi- 
gration from every part of his dominions. Chiefly he 
brought Greeks from the mainland, and their places 
were filled by Slaves from the North. Greece and the 
Balkan States as they appear to-day, and even to some 
degree Constantinople itself took a new and marked 
departure in the middle of the eighth century. 
Constantinople received a new Greek population and, 
while its official classes still preserved the pomp and 

E 65 

The Story of Constantinople 

dignity of Roman traditions, began to feel itself more 
than ever Greek. None the less it was still actively 
and obviously cosmopolitan. Scholars from all parts 
of the world came to the university where ancient 
classics were still read and where Greek was still a living 
tongue. Constantine actually made Nicetas, a man of 
Slavonic race, patriarch, and it is said that his clergy 
mocked at his pronunciation of the Greek of the 
Gospel. Armenians had already become almost as 
prominent in the city as they are to-day ; at the 
beginning of the ninth century one of them actually 
became Emperor. As early as the reign of Justin II. a 
large colony of traders from Central Asia was estab- 
lished in the city. When communication became easier 
and the power of the Roman State, reviving under 
Heraclius, more wide spread, the riches of the city 
increased. It is noted that the influence of the Church 
was steadily directed against luxury, and that nothing 
at all like the scenes described by Juvenal or Petronius 
marked the Byzantium of the days of the iconoclasts. 
Constantine himself was a man who lived freely, and 
the monks whom he attacked commented severely on 
his life. But the rich men of Constantinople, as a rule, 
though they delighted in the outward adorning of gold 
and precious stones, and loved entertainments, the 
circus and excursions on the Bosphorus, lived on the 
whole simply. Though the churches, as well as the 
houses, glittered with mosaics and gems, the asceticism 
which the many monasteries kept always visibly before 
the eyes of the people, had its influence among the rich 
as well as the poor. Rich though the imperial city 
was it was rich most of all in its churches and its relics. 
And indeed the constant danger from without, and the 
pressing needs of a large population, both gave employ- 
ment to great numbers and gave to the government 
always some practical work which kept up the taxes. 

The Mediaval City 

The laws, it has been observed, recognised the duty of 
the State to provide work for the people, and to see 
that they did it. Idleness was regarded as a crime as 
well as a sin : the State declared that for this reason it 
must actively discourage it, and no less because " it is 
unfair that strong men should live by the consumption 
of the superfluity of the labour of others, because that 
superfluity is owed to the 
weak." It is noted also 
that '* besides the inevit- 
able staff of public work- 
men, who, in a city like 
Byzantium, where fires 
were frequent and earth- 
quakes not uncommon, 
had much to do beyond 
the repairs necessitated 
by the wear and tear of 
time, the State also 
supported multitudes of 
bakers " — for the State 
still followed the Roman 
rule and provided the 
poor with bread as well 
as public games — " and 
we are taught that the 

gardens, to which we sometimes meet casual refer- 
ences in the historians, were not the property of 
private citizens, but were parks for the people, 
kept up at the State's expense." Already we see 
that some of the features most prominent in the 
city to-day belonged to it in the early Middle 
Age. The great Dome of S. Sophia glittered upon 
the wayfarer as he sailed up towards the mouth of the 
Golden Horn, and the city as the soldier looked at it 
from the tower of Heraclius was a city set in bowers 



The Story of Constantinople 

of perpetual green. Another feature as prominent, 
which the foreigner sees Irom the heights of Pera, 
owes its preservation to Constantine Copronymus. 
The aqueduct of Valens had been destroyed by the 
Avars in the reign of HeracHus, Constantine brought 
thousands of workmen together and repaired it, and the 
water flowed as of old into the capacious cisterns which 
were the work of the greatest of eastern architects. 

The ninth century began with the new and short- 
hved dynasty of Nicephorus. ** His character," says 
Gibbon, ** was stained with the three odious vices of 
hypocrisy, ingratitude and avarice ; his want of virtue 
was not redeemed by any superior talents nor his want 
of talents by any pleasing qualifications." The his- 
torians, being ecclesiastics, resented his attempt to 
assert the most extreme claims of the iconoclastic 
emperors to rule the Church, and the people despised 
him for his treachery and his failures in war. He fell 
in 8i I in battle against the Bulgarians. In six months 
his son, Stauracius, followed him to the tomb. Michael 
Rhangabe, who had married Procopia, the daughter of 
Nicephorus, then reigned for two years, but his weak- 
ness caused his deposition, and the people of Con- 
stantinople found a new sovereign, Leo the Armenian, 
forced upon them by the army. During his reign the 
imperial city was again besieged. Hadrianople was 
lost, and but for the death of the Bulgarian king it 
seems unlikely that Leo would have been able to drive 
back the forces which overran the peninsula. Yet 
Leo, conqueror though he was, was able to hold the 
crown but little longer than his predecessors. In 820 
a conspiracy of his generals, which his own generosity 
had made possible, attacked him as he sang matins on 
Christmas Day, and slew him at the foot of the altar in 
the chapel. He did not reign without leaving a memorial 
of his rule which lasts to this day. The wall of 

The Medieval City 

Heraclius was not thought fully to defend the quarter 
of Blachernae. Leo determined to build another wall 
and dig a broad moat in front of the Heraclian wall. 
<* The wall of Leo/' says Professor Van Millingen, 
" stands 77 feet to the west of the wall of Heraclius, 
running parallel to it for some 260 feet, after which it 
turns to join the walls along the Golden Horn." It is 
a strong fortification, and the number of attacks after- 
wards delivered on that quarter show how necessary it 
was that it should be strong. " Its parapet-walk was 
supported upon arches, which served at the same time 
to buttress the wall itself, a comparatively slight struc- 
ture about 8 feet thick. With a view of increasing the 
wall's capacity for defence, it was flanked by four 
small towers, while its lower portion was pierced by 
numerous loopholes. Two of the towers were on the 
side facing the Golden Horn, and the other two 
guarded the extremities of the side looking towards the 
country on the west. The latter towers projected 
inwards from the rear of the wall, and between them 
was a gateway corresponding to the Heraclian gate of 
Blachernae." ^ 

Michael II., called the Stammerer, who was then 
brought from the dungeon to the throne, and on whose 
legs, — such was the haste of the revolution, — the fetters 
actually remained for some hours after he was Emperor, 
was twice besieged in Constantinople by a rival general, 
but was relieved by the Bulgarians, and showed to the 
captured leader, Thomas the Slavonian, none of the 
mercy that had been shown to himself. He died in 
829, and his son Theophilus reigned in his stead. Of 
his character and reign the most contradictory reports 
are given ; but it is interesting to recall the scene of his 
choice of a wife, as Theophanes tells it. He deter- 
mined to choose a bride from among the beauties of 
1 Van Millingen, p. 168. 


The Story of Constantinople 

Constantinople, and when they were assembled he 
v/alked between two lines of lovely damsels. When 
he came to the poetess Kasia, he addressed her in 
verse : 

5ia ywaiKbs elaeppi^Tj tH (pav\a. 
She replied, more happily, 

dWa Kal 5tA yvpaiKbi ra Kpeirrova Trrjyd^ei. 

It was in the style of the old Greek poets : the 
leaders of each semichorus championing the cause of 
their sex in the immortal question : " Through woman 
evil things entered *' ; " but also through woman better 
things well forth." The lady was too witty to be 
empress, and Theodora, who was chosen instead, be- 
came not only a happy wife but a wise regent after the 
death of Theophilus. He died in 842, and Theodora 
was regent for her son Michael till 856. Her hus- 
band had been Iconoclast, and he scourged those who 
would not receive his edict. His widow declared that 
he had repented on his death-bed, and procured his 
absolution after death. Before the year of his death 
was out Theodora had replaced the images and a 
synod had reiterated the right and benefit of image- 
" worship." But the independence of the Eastern 
Church was none the less fully secured ; and the 
indignant protests of Popes showed that they were be- 
coming, as their own pretensions grew, more and more 
estranged from Constantinople. 

The wisdom of the mother was not rewarded in 
the life of her son. Michael III. was perhaps the 
most contemptible sovereign who ever sat on the 
imperial throne of the East. He gave himself up to 
pleasure and in particular to the Circus. He was a 
drunkard and buffoon, and he delighted to mock in 
public processions the most sacred ordinances of the 

The Me di aval City 

Christian religion. In 867 he was murdered by one 
whom he had raised almost to the purple. The years 
of his reign were diversified by sieges — notably the 
first attack of some hitherto unknown barbarians from 
the North- East. 

Between the ninth and the eleventh centuries Con- 
stantinople was attacked four times by the Russians. 
The traders told of the riches of the city, and the 
barbarians were eager to carry them away. In June 
860 they actually anchored in the Bosphorus and 
attacked the walls, but the return of Michael III. 
drove them otf, and they were afterwards completely 
defeated. A second attempt is said to have taken 
place in 907, when the rough barks of the pirates 
were drawn over the isthmus; a third in 941 was as 
completely defeated ; and again in 1 048 the Greek fire 
proved effective. 

But these later sieges were still in the far future 
when Michael, with the aid, men said, of the Blessed 
Virgin of the Blachernae, scattered the invaders, and 
passed again into the seclusion of his corrupt court, 
from whose recesses no news but that of murders and 
debaucheries seems ever to have penetrated without. 
"The state of society at the Court of Constantinople," 
says F inlay, " was not amenable to public opinion, for 
few knew much of what passed within the walls of the 
great palace ; but yet the immense machinery of the 
imperial administration gave the Emperor's power a 
solid basis, always opposed to the temporary vices of 
the courtiers. The order which rendered property 
secure, and enabled the industrious classes to prosper, 
through the equitable administration of the Roman law, 
nourished the vitality of the Empire, when the madness 
of a Nero and the drunkenness of a Michael appeared 
to threaten political order with ruin. The people, 
carefully secluded from public business, and almost 


The Story of Constantinople 

without any knowledge of the proceedings of their 
government, were in all probability little better ac- 
quainted with the intrigues and crimes of their day than 
we are at present. They acted, therefore, only when 
some real suffering or imaginary grievance brought 
oppression directly home to their interests or their 
feelings. Court murders were to them no more than 
a tragedy or a scene in the amphitheatre, at which 
they were not present." ^ 

Thus, when Caesar followed Caesar, with no change 
for the city over which they were supposed to rule, 
the intrigues and scandals which disgraced the reign of 
Michael III. raised scarce a stir among the people ; 
and when he died by the hands of one who had taken 
— it was said — a base part in some of the most de- 
graded of his acts, men hardly wondered and certainly 
did not condemn. 

Basil the Macedonian, had had a romantic life. As a 
boy he had wandered penniless to Constantinople, and 
slept on the steps of the church of S. Diomed. The kind- 
ness shown to the wayfarer by the abbat of the monas- 
tery attached to the church was rewarded, when Basil 
became Emperor, by the erection of a new church and 
monastery, some pillars of which still lie neglected upon 
the beach of the Sea of Marmora, not far from Yedi 
Koule station. His immense strength, personal beauty, 
and acute intelligence, soon made their way, and he 
completed his ascent to power it is said by marrying a 
mistress of Michael III. 

As sovereign and the founder of a dynasty, Basil the 
Macedonian was amongst the greatest of the Emperors. 
He was a successful warrior, an able administrator of 
finance, a great builder of churches, and a repairer of the 
walls. But his greatest glory is that of restorer of the 
ancient Roman law. He returned, as has been shown 

^ History of Greece y vol. ii., p. 191 

The Mediaval City 

by Professor Bury,^ to the principles of Justinian, in the 
BasiUca, which were the most important reconstruction of 
Roman law in the Middle Ages, and the last it received. 

We must hurry over these years, in which Constanti- 
nople itself underwent but few changes. Leo VI., 
the "philosopher," who has been more happily called 
a pedant, left no trace on the history of the city, save 
his name as a repairer on one of the towers of the sea- 
walls by Koum Kapou. His son, Constantine VII., 
called Porphyrogenitus, because he was *' born in the 
purple," {i.e. not when his father was Emperor, but 
because of the porphyry lined chamber reserved for his 
mother at his birth), was at first under the charge of his 
uncle Alexander and then of his mother Zoe, and lastly 
of a successful general Romanus, who surrounded him- 
self with a galaxy of imperial sons, allowing Constantine 
VII. also still to retain the title of Emperor. 

*' The studious temper and retirement of Constantine," 
says Gibbon, " disarmed the jealousy of power ; his 
books and music, his pen and his pencil, were a constant 
source of amusement ; and, if he could improve a scanty 
allowance by the sale of his pictures, if theii- price was 
not enhanced by the name of the artist, he was endowed 
with a personal talent which few princes could employ 
in the hour of adversity." Constantine was much more 
than a student. A plot against Romanus and the other 
Caesars enabled him to resume power, which he held 
with credit for seventeen years. As a writer he is one 
of the most important of all the Byzantine historians. 

The chief feature indeed of this age is its literary 
interest. Two Emperors ruled whose pride it was to 
be men of letters. Leo the wise, and Constantine born 
in the purple, were both men who wrote of war and 

1 Gibbon, vol. v., pp. 525, appendix II., a most important 
and thorough investigation of a very interesting period of 
legal history. 


The Story of Const ufitlnople 

government as they knew them, and left to their suc- 
cessors remarkable pictures of their times. Leo des- 
cribes the military forces which had still a magnificent 
organisation and a record of victory and valour but little 
tarnished. The nobles of Constantinople could fight 
as well as intrigue. Rich, brave and popular, the 
ancient families which lingered so long after the Mo- 
hammedan conquest in the ancient houses of the Phanar 
could always be relied upon to furnish gallant officers 
for the troops. Constantine wrote of the Themes, of 
the Imperial administration, and of the court ceremonial 
— the last an extraordinary work describing the dignity 
and state of the emperors, and regulating the minutest 
detail of the pomp with which their daily life was 

The Court of the Eastern Empire indeed was by far 
the most brilliant of the Middle Ages, and the Empire 
itself, weak and corrupt though it may seem, was much 
the strongest government of the time, and the one 
under which life and property were most secure. The 
commerce of Constantinople was still greater probably 
than that of any other city of the world. East and West 
poured their treasures into the city. 

The reign of Constantine Porphyrogenitus was 
diversified, like those of so many of his predecessors, 
as has already been said, by revolutions, which placed 
many Caesars on at least the steps of the throne. 
Romanus and his sons Constantine (called the Eighth) 
and Stephen, came to an end in 945, and from that 
time till his death in 958 Constantine VII. reigned 
alone. His son, Romanus II., succeeded him, and to 
him came a time of war, in which his arms were 
victorious over the Mohammedans through the genius 
of his general, Nicephorus Phocas. In 963 Romanus 
died, and Nicephorus marrying, his widow Theophano, 
became joint Emperor with the young Basil. 


T'he Mediceval City 

Nicephorus was above all things a warrior. He 
recovered for the Empire the lands of Cilicia, North 
Syria, and Cyprus. His triumph in 966, celebrated in 
the Hippodrome and in the great street of the city, 
was the prelude to many another great military display ; 
yet not being sole Emperor, he never entered in triumph 
through the Golden gate, though it was at that gate that 
he was received in 963 when he began his joint reign. ^ 
But his life as Emperor was an unhappy one. So un- 
popular was he in the city, owing to his opposition to 
the lavish generosity of his predecessors and to his 
debasement of the coinage, that he was often stoned in 
the streets and had to fortify the great Palace ; and his 
portrait has been limned for posterity by his enemies. 
Chief among the pictures of mediaeval Constantinople is 
that drawa by Liudprand, bishop of Cremona, who 
came on behalf of the Emperor Otto I. to treat of a 
marriage between Theophano, the daughter of the 
Emperor Romanus, and the future Otto II. 

Liudprand had visited Constantinople in 948. Then 
he spoke of the great palace to which he was admitted 
to audience with Constantine Porphyrogenitus, of its 
golden tree in ^Yhich golden birds of divers kinds sang 
sweetly, of the golden lions that guarded the throne, 
shaking the earth with the beat of their tails, and roar- 
ing at the approach of the envoys — marvellous features 
of the Eastern Court which the Emperor had not for- 
gotten to record in his account of the ceremonial. 
Then he saw, too, the Emperor recline at dinner after 
the ancient fashion, he saw the games of the Hippo- 
drome, and he marvelled at the size of the fruit and at 
the extraordinary acrobatic strength of the boys of the 
circus. Then he was treated with great distinction. 
Now, in 968, his reception was very different. In his 

^ On Nicephorus Phocas see the briUiant book of M. 
Schlumberger, " Un Empereur Byzantin au X'^^ie Siecle." 


The Story of Cotistantinople 

letter to the two Ottos he declared that he even lodged 
in a roofless house, exposed to heat and cold, and 
constantly under guard, and that he suflFered agonies 
from the resinous Greek wine. First he saw Basil, 
the Emperor's brother, and then he was admitted to 
the presence of Nicephorus himself, whom he describes 
as more a monster than a man, black as an Ethiop, and 
small as a pigmy. A pretty argument took place 
between envoy and Emperor ; the Greek refusing the 
imperial title to the German Caesars of the West, while 
the Western bishop would not allow any rights of the 
East to the Italian lands of old Rome. Their con- 
verse was interrupted by the hour of prayer, and 
Liudprand joined the procession to S. Sophia. Trades- 
men and low-born folk, says the contemptuous bishop, 
lined the streets, many of them barefoot, because of the 
holiness of the procession. Nicephorus alone wore gold 
and jewels. 

When they entered the great church the choir sang 
" Lo there cometh the morning star. The dawn 
riseth. He reflects the rays of the sun. Nicephorus 
our ruler, the pale death of the Saracens." ^ The 
famous phrase, "pallida mors Saracenorum," which 
Liudprand uses, was to be terribly avenged ; but then 
it was a triumphant expression of the safety which the 
city owed to the wise Emperor. As he went, says 
Liudprand, "his lords the Emperors*' (Basil and 
Constantine, the sons of Romanus) bowed before 
him. After the Eucharist the bishop dined with the 
Emperor, and was again, he says, subject to his taunts. 
" You are not Romans but Lombards," was the 
Eastern mockery of the German imperialism ; and 

1 In modern times the greeting of a bishop at his entrance 
by a special anthem is still retained in the Greek Church ; as 
also the greeting of cardinals when they enter S. Peter's — 
" Ecce sacerdos " etc. 


The Mediaval City 

the reply was that to the Westerns there was no name 
more contemptible than that of Roman. Such abrupt 
witticisms naturally consigned Liudprand again to his 
" hated dwelling, or more truly, prison." He wrote 
to Basil the curopalates (a post of honour second only 
to that of Caesar) and John Tzimisces the logothete, 
beseeching that if his mission was not favourably re- 
ceived, he might return at once ; and then in an inter- 
view with Nicephorus, in the presence of Basil the 
chamberlain {^parakinomenos^ he pressed the proposal 
of Otto for a marriage. The Emperor replied that it 
was unheard of that a princess born in the purple, the 
child of an Emperor born in the purple, should be 
given in marriage to a ** gentile " or " barbarian." 
So day by day the meetings were renewed and the 
proud Italian thought that he was treated each time 
with new indignity, being even set below a Bulgarian 
envoy — to whose master the Greeks would even allow 
the title of *' Vasileus " ((SaffiXivg) which they would 
not give to Otto, and towards whose people alone it 
seemed that the Eastern Empire at this time had any 
kindly feeling. Theology as well as politics were 
often in question, and the Italian bishop was mocked 
at for the modernism of his doctrines, as the Greeks 
mock the Latins to-day. He was kept, he says, in 
company with five lions ; and the women, as he passed 
through the streets, called out in pity at his woe-worn 
appearance. Sometimes he visited the Emperor in 
the camp at Balukli (g/g Triyag, he says, in one of 
his snatches of Greek) and quoted Plato to him ; 
sometimes he had to listen to homilies of S. John 
Chrysostom read aloud ; more often he had to hear 
what seemed to him the grossest insults of the Germans 
and the Latins, insults which he gladly returned in his 
report to the Ottos upon " the wild ass Nicephorus," 
and which he even ventured, he says, to write on the 


The Story of Constantinople 

wall of his prison in verses none too easily to be under- 
stood. At length he was allowed to leave the city, 
" once most opulent and flourishing, now half-starved, 
perjured, lying, cunning, greedy, rapacious, avaricious, 
boastful." His report, as we have it, breaks oflP in a 
torrent of denunciations of the Greeks and their ways. 
His mission was a failure, but Theophano, refused by 
Nicephorus, was afterwards given by John Tzimisces, 
to be bride to Otto II. 

This curious survival of tenth century opinion illus- 
trates the almost total severance which had now come 
about between the East and the West, and shows how 
natural was the destruction which was soon to come 
upon the city of the Caesars. The West had ceased 
to feel for the Eastern survival of empire anything 
of brotherhood or Christian fellowship. First it would 
seek to conquer the bulwark of Christendom for itself ; 
then it would let it fall before the conquering infidels. 

Nicephorus did not long retain the throne he had so 
well defended. John Tzimisces (or Tchemchkik), an 
Armenian, who won the favour of the Empress Theo- 
phano, joined in a plot to overthrow his benefactor, 
and Nicephorus was murdered in the palace. John 
Tzimisces reigned in his stead. He made treaty with 
the patriarch Polyeuctus, by which he gave up the claim 
that Nicephorus had asserted, that all episcopal nomina- 
tions should only be valid by the Emperor's consent. 
He gave high promotion to the dignified and imposing 
Basil, the chamberlain whom Psellus the historian 
describes as so impressive a person. He banished the 
wicked Empress Theophano to the Princes' islands. 
Then he reigned as joint Emperor with the young 
Emperors Basil and Constantine, whose rights he was 
scrupulous to preserve. 

John Tzimisces was famous as a gallant defender of 
the empire. The people of Constantinople knew him 


The Mcdiceval City 

chiefly for the imposing ceremonies of his accession, 
of his second marriage with Theodora, daughter of 
Constantine VII., and of his departure for war against 
the barbarian invaders, when the clergy led him in 
pomp to his embarkation on the Golden Horn, and 
blessed his ships, and the citizens watched a naval 
sham fight from the walls. Domestic rebellions — 
those of Bardas, Sclerus, and of the family of Phocas 
— as well as the dangerous Russian invasions — dis- 
tracted his reign : but Tzimisces was a successful 
general, and by his conquest over the Russians under 
Swiatoslaf he preserved the Empire, and began that 
association of teaching and Christian influence which 
is returned to-day by the orthodox Russians to the 
Church of Constantinople, which is their mother, and 
which now, in her time-honoured conservatism, weak 
though she is, she is inclined rather to resent than to 
welcome. From his conquest John Tzimisces returned 
in triumph to Constantinople through the Golden gate, 
followed by his soldiers and his captives, greeted by 
the Church and by the officers of his court, and 
watched by the vast population of the imperial city. 
It was one of the greatest of the triumphs, as it was 
one of the last. The ancient usages were retained in 
all their pomp. The senate met the Emperor at the 
gate with the conqueror's chaplet and with the golden 
chariot drawn by four white horses, in which they 
besought him to drive through the streets. Dramati- 
cally he showed his sympathy with the religious feeling 
of his people ; the chariot should carry the Ikon of the 
Blessed Virgin which he had taken in Bulgaria and 
to which he attributed his victories : he would ride 
behind, clothed as an emperor and a general, and 
would offer in S. Sophia the crown of the conquered 
Bulgarian kings. Then in the palace the young 
Bulgarian chieftain Boris, who had followed his 


The Story of Constantinople 

triumph on foot, was despoiled of the insignia of 
sovereignty, yet ranked among the officers of tlie 
imperial court. 

It was not the last of the victories of John 
Tzimisces. He returned more than once a con- 
queror from Armenia and Mesopotamia. He died in 
976, in the midst of his victories-; and since the young 
Emperors whom he had guarded were now grown to 
man's estate, men spoke of his death as mysterious and 
as probably due to poison. 

In Basil II. the Empire again had a warrior Em- 
peror, but one who added to the delights of war the 
devotion of an almost monastic religion. While his 
brother, Constantine IX., confined himself to the 
court and its pleasures, Basil in many hard-won fights 
achieved the title of Bulgaroktonos, the slayer of the 
Bulgarians. For thirty-four years he fought the great 
King Samuel, who had built up a power in the 
Balkans, till at last he utterly broke up the Slavs, 
captured all their fortresses, and extended the frontier 
of the Empire to Belgrade, and so down the Danube 
to the Black Sea. It was, as Gibbon says, '* since 
the time of Belisarius, the most important triumph of 
the Roman arms." Victories also he won in the East, 
but they served only to break down the kingdom of 
Armenia, and thus to destroy what might have been a 
bulwark against the infidel. Basil, who reigned from 
963 to 1025, when he died at the age of sixty-eight, 
and who for more than fifty years was practically the 
sole ruler of the Empire, was a stern, vigorous man, 
sharp in speech, often cruel in victory, serious and re- 
strained in life, but fond of mirth in his moments of 
ease. He was a complete contrast to his idle brother, 
who lived it seemed only for the Hippodrome and the 
society of the ladies of his court. Basil was never 
married. Constantine, who survived him three years, 

The Medieval City 

left three daughters.^ During his long reign Basil 
had swept away all rivals from his path : the great 
chamberlain Basil had early been banished, and there 
was no dynasty to compete with the Macedonians in 
the last days of their power. 

Basil taught the people that the Emperor could rule 
without the intervention of courtiers, and thus when 
he died the imperial city looked for a man to be at its 
head. If they had feared rather than loved the great 
conqueror of the Bulgarians, they respected him because 
he had kept up the power of the Church and had pat- 
ronised the learning which still had its home in the 
East. He left to his successors the alliance of the 
patriarchal See and a school of literature founded on 
classic models, which, with all its affectations, gave to 
the eleventh century an important group of historical 
writers. In no age, too, was Byzantine art, the art of 
working in ivory, of miniature, of mosaic, more vigor- 
ous. With the death of Basil, however long it might 
be disguised, the decay began. 

When Constantine died his three daughters survived 
him, Eudocia who preferred a convent to a throne, and 
Zoe and Theodora, ladies of more ambitious temper. 
Zoe before her father died was wedded — she was forty- 
eight — to Romanus Argyrus, an elderly noble already 
married, whose wife was banished to a convent. Ro- 
manus III. was for six years (1028-1034) the nominal 
ruler of the Empire. He thought himself a philosopher 
and a warrior ; but, says Psellus, ** he thought he knew 
far more than he did." Some of his acts were useful 
— as his repair of the walls after the earthquakes of 
1032 and 1033, commemorated by an inscription on 

* The first part of the reign of these sovereigns, and the 
reign of John Tzimisces, are described with abundance of 
illustrative detail in M. Schlumberger's charming book, 
*' L'Epopee byzantine a la fin du dixieme siecle." - 

F 81 



he Story of Constantinople 

the fourth tower from the Sea of Marmora, shows. 
But the historian mocks at his long drawn-out building 
of the monastery of S. Mary Peribleptos and says that 
a "whole mountain was excavated" to supply the 
stones. It was his most enduring memorial, and, 
several times rebuilt, it still survives in the possession 
of the Armenians as the monastery of S. George, not 
far from the Psamatia station. 

But the Emperor's dreams of war, philosophy and 
building, were rudely disturbed by the intrigue of his 
wife with a young Paphlagonian soldier, Michael. He 
professed to disbelieve it, though it was notorious to 
the court. His complaisance perhaps allowed him to 
die in peace, though some said he was killed by a slow 
poison. On the very day of his death Zoe elevated 
Michael to the throne, and before the burial of Ro- 
manus the senate kissed the right hand of his successor. 

Michael appears before us in the pages of the rhetori- 
cal Psellus as almost a hero and a saint. He reclaimed 
sinners after the manner of Justinian, he reformed the 
administration, he daily worshipped God in the services 
of the Church, and nightly walked the streets to watch 
and to prevent crime. One of the strangest pictures 
of mediaeval Constantinople is that which Psellus gives 
us of the unwearied Emperor, disguised in monkish 
dress, passing swiftly " like lightning '* through the 
streets at night, watching that his people might be pre- 
served from crime. Yet with all his virtues he was a 
drunkard, and the epileptic fits to which he became 
more and more subject were probably due to his vices. 
So terribly did his affliction increase upon him that 
when he gave audience it was necessary to surround 
him with curtains which could in a moment be drawn 
to hide his paroxysms, and when he rode his guards 
formed a circle about him. His greedy relations sur- 
rounded him and urged him to provide for them, and 

The Medieval City 

when he had signalised his reign by a heroic defence 
of the Empire against a rising of the Bulgarians he re- 
turned in triumph only to retire to a monastery and to 

Zoe emerged from the seclusion in which she had 
passed the last years of her young husband's life, and 
was induced by her family to make his nephew, Michael 
Kalaphates Emperor. Raised to the throne by his family 
he set himself at once to reduce it to the lowest depths. 
" The names of kinship, the common tie of kindred 
blood, appeared to him mere childishness, and it would 
have been nothing to him if one wave had engulfed all 
his kin.'' The same measure he meted to the nobles 
and the officials ; but he courted popularity with the 
traders and the populace more than any of his pre- 
decessors had done, and when he showed himself in the 
streets silk carpets were strewn before him and he was 
greeted as the noblest of the Csesars. Yet he relied too 
much upon the fickle mob. When the senate con- 
sented to his banishment of Zoe, shorn as a nun, to 
Prince's Island, he proclaimed his act in the forum of 
Constantine for the acceptance of the people. 

But Constantinople again showed that, favoured as it 
had been like a petted child, it could show its power. 
The people assembled in knots at street corners and 
protested against the banishment of the heiress of the 
Macedonian warrior. The conclaves became a riot 
and the riot a revolution. Women ran through the 
streets tearing their hair and beating their breasts. 
Officers of State joined the mob, and they rushed to 
destroy the houses of the Emperor's family. Zoe 
was hastily recalled from Prinkipo, and shown in 
purple robes to the people in the Hippodrome. But 
it was too late. The mob broke open the monastery 
of the Pctrion (by the Phanar) where her sister 
Theodora had long lived in retirement, and forced her 


The Story of Constantinople 

to go with them to S. Sophia and there the patriarch 
Alexius and the vast crowd hailed her as Empress. 
The Emperor and his uncle took refuge in the church 
of the Studium. They were dragged from the altar 
and their eyes were put out ; and Zoe and Theodora, 
who hated each other, became joint Empresses. 

Their rule was extravagant and reckless ; and while 
the State was advancing rapidly towards bankruptcy, 
the aged Zoe took a third husband, after two attempts 
at choice, wedding Constantine Monomachus, who 
reigned from 1042 to 1054 as Constantine X. The 
old Empress and her young husband gave themselves 
entirely to pleasure, to luxury and buffoonery. The 
Emperor, " generous in giving and knowing how to 
confer benefits after the manner of an Emperor, beauti- 
fied the city by the building of the magnificent 
monastery of S. George at the Mangana (near 
Deirmen Kapou on the Mamora), and amused the 
citizens by showing them an elephant and a camelo- 
pard. The court which Constantine and Zoe gathered 
round them was a strange assembly ; its chief person- 
age was the Emperor's mistress Skleraina, whom the 
Empress treated as a friend. The people resented the 
conjunction and cried *' we will not have Skleraina to 
reign over us, nor on her account shall our purple-born 
mothers, Zoe and Theodora, die." The aged Zoe 
herself appeased them. It was an extraordinary 
state of society, reminding us of the eighteenth century 
in France : the intrigues that Psellus tells are indeed 
hardly credible. But the social corruption coexisted 
with a real revival of learning. Constantinople became 
the centre of a new study of literature, which had 
decayed since the iconoclastic emperors set themselve?! 
to destroy culture and Leo III. abolished the University. 
Constantine refounded the University, endowing two 
chairs — philosophy and law — which were held by 

The Medieval City 

Psellus and his friend, John Xiphilinos. A revival 
of the study of the classics followed this institution : 
Psellus considered himself a Platonist, and he thought 
himself worthy to represent as well as to revive the 
best traditions of Greek literature. In the hands o£ 
Anna Comnena and her contemporaries, the purism 
which the writers affected became little more than 
an Attic euphuism. 

While the Emperor and his friends were thus busy 
with trifles, and the government was in the hands 
sometimes of wise ministers such as Leichudes, some- 
times of mere thieves, the throne was constantly 
threatened by revolts (of which the most famous was 
that of George Maniakes) and by direct attacks on 
the city, such as that of the Russians, and in 1047 
of Leo Tornikos. This latter was nearly successful. 
Many of the citizens were ready to join him, and but 
for the military skill shown by Constantine (if we 
rightly read the rhetorical description of Psellus) 
Leo would probably have entered and found himself 
welcomed as Emperor. 

In 1054 Constantine X. died, and the aged Theodora, 
the last survivor of the Macedonian house, came forth 
again from her convent and reigned with the aid of 
ministers who were at least capable and honest. On 
her death, after two years as sole ruler, the throne 
passed, by her wish, to an able but aged soldier, 
Michael Stratioticus. 

Psellus shows that die accession of this sovereign 
marked a crisis in the history of the Empire. Con- 
stantine X. had reformed the Senate, opening it to all 
men of merit apart from their birth. Michael VL 
thought he could rely entirely on the civil functionaries, 
but the army was still strong enough to dictate to the 
Emperor, and his unwise acts led to an alliance between 
the generals and the energetic patriarch Michael Ceru- 


The Story of Constantinople 

larius. Michael attempted to negotiate witli Isaac 
Comnenus, whom the army had chosen as their leader, 
and who was encamped at Nicaea (Isnik) ; but before 
the envoys, among whom was Psellus, had completed 
their mission, a rising in the city, led by some dis- 
contented senators, had dethroned and slain Michael, 
and the whole city was waiting to welcome Isaac as 

Constantinople in this revolution decisively chose her 
own Emperor. The Senate and the chiefs of certain 
"clubs" (the successors of the factions of the Circus 
so prominent four centuries before) guided, as seems 
probable, by the patriarch, carried the city with them. 
Isaac they summoned from Skutari : Michael departed 
to a monastery with the patriarch's kiss of peace. 

The scene when Isaac was about to cross the Bos- 
phorus to receive his crown was a dramatic one. He 
called Psellus, the envoy of his deposed rival, to him, 
and said, when the philosopher spoke of the enthusiasm 
of the people, " I liked thy tongue better when it 
reviled me than now when it speaks smooth words." 
But he began his reign by an amnesty, for he made 
Psellus president of the Senate, and Michael the 
patriarch — however much he may have distrusted 
him — he treated with the fullest confidence and 

While these political and dynastic changes had sup- 
plied the Empire with a new ruler almost every year, 
the growing alienation between East and West had 
been marked decisively by the separation of the 
Churches. Two great names embody in the East 
the final protest against Roman assumption. The 
Church of Constantinople had never abandoned its 
claim to equality with that of Rome, though it 
allowed to the ancient city the primacy of honour. 
Photius, who became patriarch in 858, and died in 

The Mediaeval City 

891, owed his throne to an election which was not 
canonical, and though a council in 861 at Constanti- 
nople, at which papal legates were present, confirmed 
him in his office. Pope Nicholas I. declared that its 
decisions were illegal, and that Photius was deposed and 
excommunicated, while the Emperor himself was at- 
tacked in language of peculiar vehemence. The papal 
claim to decide between two claimants to the patri- 
archate was fiercely resented. Photius declared the 
equality of his see with that of Rome. To the Roman 
claim of jurisdiction, complicated also by assertions of 
supremacy over the Bulgarian Church, were added 
points of theological contention which the churches 
debated with as much eagerness, and it would seem, as 
little desire, to arrive at a reasonable solution. The 
addition of the words Fil'toque to the Nicene Creed, 
asserting the Procession of the Holy Ghost from the 
Father and tlie Son, was, and is, resented by the 
Greeks as an addition to " the faitli once for all 
delivered to the Saints." The use of unleavened 
bread in the Holy Eucharist was regarded in the East 
as an heretical innovation. There were, and are, other 
points of dispute ; but none, it is probable, but for the 
strong national feeling of Italy and of Greece, would 
have caused a final breach. 

The position which Photius defended with skill and 
vigour in the ninth century was reasserted by Michael 
Cerularius in the eleventh. He regarded the teaching 
of the West on the doctrine of the Holy Trinity, says 
Psellus, as an intolerable heresy ; and he was prompt 
to reassert jurisdiction over the churches of Apulia, now 
conquered by the Normans and made subject to Rome. 
The final breach came from Rome itself. On July 16, 
1054, two legates of the Pope laid on the altar of S. 
Sophia the act of excommunication which severed the 
patriarch from the communion of the West, and con- 


The Story of Const cmtinople 

demned what were asserted to be seven deadly heresies 
of the Eastern Church. 

But to return to the imperial revolution. 

Isaac Comnenus, who was called to the tlirone in 
1057, had been brought up in the palace, but he was 
none the less a warrior and a man of determination, 
who had served the Empire well. He reigned only 
for two years, and then retired to end his days in 
religion, in the famous and beautiful monastery of the 
Studium, which looks from a slight elevation over the 
Sea of Marmora, some half mile away, and whose 
half ruined walls are to-day among the most striking 
of the memorials of the past that Constantinople can 

With the beginning of the dynasty of the Comneni 
the causes which brought about the fall of the Empire 
can clearly be traced. The imperial power, concen- 
trated more and more in the imperial household, and 
finally in the Emperor himself, had come to be devoted 
chiefly, in the hands of feeble or self-indulgent em- 
perors, to the maintenance of imperial dignity and pride 
in the city itself. The magnificent administration 
which had presented a coherent and efl^ective govern- 
ment while the rest of Europe was in " the dark ages," 
was beginning to sink into a mere machine for the 
support of a luxurious Court. The Empire was 
neglected. The aristocracy of Byzantium was treated 
with severity or contempt. The officials of the State 
were the mere nominees of the Emperor. For their 
interest and for the pursuit of popularity among the 
people it was that government seemed to exist. Every 
year, as the defences of the Empire grew weaker, the 
shows of the Hippodrome, the festivals of the Church, 
the entertainments of the palace, grew more splendid. 
When the other States of Europe were yet in their 
cradle, when England as a Power had hardly begun to 

The Medieval City 

exist, the long history of the Empire was verging 
irresistibly towards decay. 

<* The domestics of the Basilian dynasty carried on 
the work of political change," says Finlay,^ " by filling 
the public offices with their own creatures, and thereby 
destroying the power of that body of State officials, 
whose admirable organisation had repeatedly saved the 
Empire from falling into anarchy under tyrants or from 
being ruined by peculation under aristocratic influence. 
In this manner the scientific fabric of the imperial power, 
founded by Augustus, was at last ruined in the East 
as it had been destroyed in the West. The Emperors 
broke the government to pieces before strangers de- 
stroyed the Empire. 

" The revolution which undermined the systematic 
administration was already consummated before the 
rebellion of the aristocracy placed the imperial crown 
on the head of Isaac Comnenus. No organised body 
of trained officials any longer existed to resist the 
egoistical pretensions of the new intruders into minis- 
terial authority. The Emperor could now make his 
household steward prime minister, and the governor 
of a province could appoint his butler prefect of the 
police. The Church and the law alone preserved 
some degree of systematic organisation and inde- 
pendent character. It was not in the power of an 
emperor to make a man a lawyer or a priest with 
the same ease with which he could appoint him a 
chamberlain or a minister of State." 

The decay of which the general causes are thus 
sketched can clearly be traced in the series of his- 
torians who give us the records of the years from the 
accession of John Comnenus to the conquest of Con- 
stantinople by the Crusaders, from the year 1057, that 
is, to the year 1204. Psellus, monk, secretary of 
^ ** History of Greece," vol. iii., p. 4. 


The Story of Constantinople 

State, philosopher, statesman, gives, as we have ah'eady 
seen, a close account of the intrigues of the court. 
Michael Altaleiates records the years 1034- 1079. 
Nicephorus Bryennius and his wife, Anna Comnena, 
wrote from within the story of the politics of Alexius 
Comnenus, the former to some extent, the latter very 
greatly, influenced by the classic revival, and en- 
deavouring to form their work on classic models. 
John Cinnamus, Nicetas Acominatos, John Scylitzes, 
John Zonaras, are all chroniclers who have special 
sources of information ; and the result is that for the 
century of decay which culminated in the collapse of 
the Empire before the Latins, we have information 
almost complete. 

The Emperor Isaac was assisted at the first by 
the able patriarch Michael Cerularius, who put into 
exercise all the claims of his predecessors to power 
and independence, to equality with Rome, and to 
superiority over the churches related to the patri- 
archate. Strife soon broke out between Emperor 
and patriarch. Michael appeared in the red boots 
which marked the imperial dignity, declaring that he 
was the equal of the Emperor ; and of the Emperor 
himself he said, in what seems to have been a popular 
proverb, " Oven, I built you, and I can knock you 
down." He was seized and banished to Proconnesus. 

After the retirement of Isaac Constantine, Ducas, 
like the Comneni a Cappadocian, and a friend of 
their own, reigned for eight years, 1059-1067, 
and left the reputation of a man anxious only to 
save money, and thus unable to protect the frontiers 
of the Empire. Under him we learn the import- 
ance of the Emperor's personal guard of Varangians 
— a body of barbarian warriors founded early in the 
eleventh century, and consisting at first of Russians, 
whom the wars of Nicephorus Phocas, John Tzimisdres 

The Mediaval City 

and Basil Bulgaroktonos had taught the Empire to 
respect ; and of Scandinavians, and later of Danes, 
and after the Norman Conquest of fugitive English- 
men, who, rather than serve the foreign conquerors 
of their own land, gladly came to win fame and 
wealth as the guardians of the Casar's throne. Con- 
stantine XT. paid the Varangians while he neglected 
the rest of his army. The Empire paid the penalty 
in the ravaging of Armenia by the Seljuk Turks, and 
of Bulgaria by the Tartars. When he died in 1067, 
already the name of Alp-Arslan, the Sultan of the 
Seljuks, struck terror into the Asiatic provinces of 
the Empire, and the sceptre of the Caesars fell to 
Michael VII., a child who could not protect what 
his father had not cared to defend. The mother 
of the young Emperor, Eudocia, married a gallant 
general, Romanus Diogenes, who, with the title of 
joint Emperor, won but little power in the palace, 
but was readily allowed to lead the armies in the 
field. Of his campaigns it is only needful to say 
that, while for a time he held back the Seljuks, in 
1 07 1, at Manzikert, on the Armenian frontier, his 
troops were scattered by the overwhelming hordes 
of the barbarians, and when night fell Alp-i\rslan 
placed his foot upon the neck of the prostrate Cxsar, 
his captive. 

In Constantinople a new revolution followed the 
news of the Emperor's defeat. John Ducas, brother 
of Constantine XL, for a time held the post of Regent 
for his nephew. When Romanus was released from 
captivity he was seized and his eyes were put out, a 
crime which resulted in his death. The scenes of 
blood and treachery which marked these years, when 
the Court still kept up its splendours in the presence of 
pestilence, famine, and decay, are almost incredible ; 
but the vengeance that was surely coming shows the 


The Story of Constantinople 

weakness that resulted from the reign of corruption and 
crime. Michael VII. was called Parapinakes, " the 
peck-stealer,'* a name '* given him because in a year of 
famine he sold the measure of wheat to his subjects a 
fourth short of its proper contents.'' He was over- 
thrown by an adventurer named Nicephorus Botoniates, 
whose reign of three years was a period of vice and 
waste which brought the Empire rapidly nearer to its 
fall. Michael VII. retired, like Romanus, to the 
Monastery of the Studium, where as titular bishop of 
Ephesus, he passed the last years of his life in peace. 
Three years exhausted the patience of the nobles with 
the aged and debauched Nicephorus. Maria, once wife 
of Michael VII. and now wife of his successor, formed 
a plot against him, and from a number of conspira- 
tors, Alexius Comnenus, son of the Emperor Isaac, 
was chosen to lead the troops who determined to 
give a new Cassar to the exhausted Empire. In 
1 08 1 the friends of the conspirators escaped through 
the gate of Blachernae with horses they had stolen 
from the Imperial stables. They returned with an 
army : the German guards who held the gate of 
Charisius (Edirn^ Kapou) were bribed, and the ad- 
herents of Comnenus poured into the heart of the 
city. A battle at first seemed certain, for the Varan- 
gians stood boldly across the forum of Constantine 
to defend the approaches to the great palace. But 
when George Palaeologus, a gallant officer connected 
by marriage with the Comneni, secured the fleet, the 
heart of the aged Nicephorus failed him, and he fled to 
S. Sophia, whence he was removed like so many of 
his predecessors to a monastery. 

Alexius Comnenus was not strong enough to restrain 

the motley rabble who had entered in his train. The 

city was given over to pillage. The very palaces and 

monasteries were spoiled by the barbarians from the 



The Mediceval City 

Balkans. It was from this date that the ruin of the 
city began. If the churches still maintained their relics 
and their jewels, the commercial prosperity, which all 
through these years of imperial corruption and weakness 
it had struggled to maintain, now began to slip from its 
grasp. It was clear that property was no more safe 
than life ; and as the Italian cities began to secure the 
commerce of the Levant, the merchants of Constan- 
tinople fell behind in the race for wealth, and saw the 
trade that had been theirs taken by the Venetians, the 
Pi sans and the Genoese, who now settled at their very 

Alexius Comnenus was at first not sole Emperor. 
Constantine Ducas, the son of Michael VII., was also 
called Emperor, but he soon died. Alexius then 
reigned alone, but not without many plots against him. 
Within, the city managed to suppress the conspirators ; 
without, he suffered defeat from the Normans at 
Durazzo, and preserved with difficulty the Tiiessnlian 
province. He won fame among his people as a per- 
secutor of Paulicians and Bogomils ; and Basil, a monk, 
was entrapped by Alexius into a confession of his 
heretical opinions and then burnt as a heretic in the 
Hippodrome, to the delight of the people of Constan- 
tinople. He kept off the Turks, though they were 
now (1092) settled so near as to have Smyrna for their 
capital. But his chief danger came from the Crusades. 

In spite of the breach between the Churches it was 
impossible for the Eastern Emperor openly to do other- 
wise than welcome the hosts who in response to the 
preaching of Peter the Hermit and the call of Urban 
II. marched through Hungary and Bulgaria and arrived 
outside the land walls in a ragged and disordered con- 
dition. Hugh of Vermandois had landed near Dur- 
azzo, but had been treated almost as a foreigner, and 
having been made to do homage to Alexius, awaited in 


7he Story of CGnstantinople 

the imperial city the arrival of the rest of the hosts. 
His treatment was resented by Godfrey of Bouillon ; 
but the skill and tact of Alexius triumphed. In the 
palace of the Blachernae, while the hosts were encamped 
outside the walls, the Emperor received the leaders, 
among them Godfrey, Bohemond, and Peter the Her- 
mit himself, and by cajoling some, bribing others, 
threatening those who seemed weakest, he procured 
that they all should do him homage and promise to 
convey to him all of his Empire that they should re- 
cover from the Turks. 

To the people of Constantinople the warriors of the 
West seemed like ignorant and half-brutal children, ever 
gabbling, boasting, and changeable. The warlike garb 
of the L/atin priests and bishops disgusted the Greeks 
and widened the breach between the Churches. The 
climax seemed to come on the day when the chiefs did 
homage to the Emperor. Thus the story is told by 
Anna Comnena, who was herself then fourteen years 
old, and may not improbably have witnessed the scene. 

" As soon as they approached the great city, they 
occupied the place appointed for them by the Emperor, 
near to the monastery of the Cosmidion.^ But this 
multitude was not, like the Hellenic one of old, to be re- 
strained and governed by the loud voices of nine heralds. 
They required the constant superintendence of chosen 
and valiant soldiers to keep them from violating the 
commands of the Emperor. He, meantime, laboured 
to obtain from the other leaders that acknowledgment 
of his supreme authority which had already been drawn 
from Godfrey himself. But notwithstanding the willing- 
ness of some to accede to this proposal, and their assist- 

* This was the suburb named after the church of SS. 
Cosmas and Damian. The monastery w^as fortified, and stood 
on the top of the hill overlooking the Golden Horn. It was 
granted by Alexius to Bohemond. 


The Mediaval City 

ance in working on the minds of their associates, the 
Emperor's endeavours had httle success, as the majority 
were looking for the arrival of Bohemond, in whom they 
placed their chief confidence, and resorted to every art 
with the view of gaining time. The Emperor, whom 
it was not easy to deceive, penetrated their motives ; 
and by granting to one powerful person demands which 
had been supposed out of all bounds of expectation, and 
by resorting to a variety of other devices, he at length 
prevailed, and won general assent to the following of 
the example of Godfrey, who also was sent for in 
person to assist in this business. 

" All, therefore, being assembled, and Godfrey 
among them, the oath was taken ; but when all was 
finished, a certain noble among these counts had the 
audacity to seat himself on the throne of the Emperor. 
The Emperor restrained himself and said nothing, for 
he was well acquainted of old with the nature of the 

" But the Count Baldwin stepping forth, and seizing 
him by the hand, dragged him thence, and with many 
reproaches said, * It becomes thee not to do such things 
here, especially after having taken the oath of fealty. 
It is not the custom of the Roman Emperors to per- 
mit any of their inferiors to sit beside them, not even 
of such as are born subjects of their empire ; and it is 
necessary to respect the customs of the country.' But 
he, answering nothing to Baldwin, stared yet more 
fixedly upon the Emperor, and muttered to himself 
something in his own dialect, which, being interpreted, 
was to this effect — * Behold, what rustic fellow is this, 
to be seated alone while such leaders stand around 
him ! ' The movement of his lips did not escape the 
Emperor, who called to him one that understood the 
Latin dialect, and inquired what words the man had 
spoken. When he heard them the Emperor said 


The Story oj Constantinople 

nothing to the other Latins, but kept the thing to 
himself. When, however, the business was all over, 
he called near to him by himself that swelling and 
shameless Latin, and asked of him, who he was, of 
what lineage, and from what region he had come. 
* I am a Frank,' said he, * of pure blood, of the nobles. 
One thing I know, that where three roads meet 
in the place from which I came, there is an ancient 
church, in which whosoever has the desire to measure 
himself against another in single combat, prays God to 
help him therein, and afterwards abides the coming of 
one willing to encounter him. At that spot a long 
time did I remain, but the man bold enough to stand 
against me I found not.' Hearing these words the 
Emperor said, * If hitherto thou hast sought battles in 
vain the time is at hand which will furnish thee with 
abundance of them. And I advise thee to place thy- 
self neither before the phalanx, nor in its rear, but to 
stand fast in the midst of thy fellow-soldiers ; for of 
old time I am well acquainted with the warfare of the 
Turks.' With such advice he dismissed not only this 
man, but the rest of those who were about to depart on 
that expedition." 

A scene such as this made the Greeks regard the 
Westerns simply as barbarians, and they rejoiced when 
the host at last passed over the Bosphorus to fight the 
Turks. For the first year Alexius remained with the 
army ; but as they became divided among themselves, 
and refused to give up to him the territory they con- 
quered in the East, he returned to Constantinople, 
satisfied with the conquest which had driven back the 
Turks in Asia for more than 200 miles. 

While the Empire gained by its most dangerous 
enemy being thus driven back, it lost seriously in other 
ways. " Between 1098 and 1099 a continual stream 
of armed pilgrims traversed the Byzantine Empire," 


The Media vat City 

everywhere bringing ruin and devastation with them. 
One detachment of Lombards actually attempted to 
storm the Blachernae quarter and v/ere only with great 
difficulty taken over to Asia, where they slaughtered 
Christians as readily as Turks. Open war broke out 
between Bohemond and Alexius, and it was the last 
success of Alexius that he was able to beat off the 
attacks of the Christians of the West. He died in 
1 1 1 8, his last hours disturbed by a plot in which his 
wife Irene and his daughter Anna were engaged to 
compel his son John to yield the Empire to Anna's 
husband, Nicephorus Bryennius. 

Alexius may have seemed to leave the Empire 
stronger than he found it ; but in truth, though its 
military power was greater, its commercial greatness 
was passing away. The development of trade in the 
Levant through the establishment of Christian king- 
doms in the East by the Crusaders reduced the trade of 
Constantinople, it has been estimated, by " a third or 
even a half in the fifty years that followed the first 
crusade." A system of financial extortion and a 
debased coinage brought the merchants of the city 
still nearer to ruin, and that ruin seemed consummated 
when they found the Genoese and Pisans settled with 
special privileges in their midst. But the new 
Emperor at least kept up appearances. He was a 
conqueror, and he was popular among his subjects, 
called at first Maurojoannes (Black John), from 
his dark complexion, he soon became called Kalo- 
joannes, for his goodness rather than his beauty. At 
the first he was met by conspiracy. His sister Anna 
was ready to have him murdered that she and her 
husband might ascend the throne. He discovered 
the plot, and after a few weeks restored her to all 
her possessions. His brother Isaac fled from Con- 
stantinople to the Turks, and though he returned, his 

a 97 

The Story oj Constantinople 

8on afterwards became a Mohammedan. For chief 
minister the Emperor had a Turkish slave who had 
been captured by his father at Nicaea and brought up 
with him. These instances show how closely the 
Empire, in spite of its Christianity, was drawing nigh 
to the Turks, a state of affairs paralleled by the 
relations between Christians and Moors in Spain in 
the days of El Cid Campeador, and which made the 
conquest, when it came, less abrupt and terrible than 
it seems to-day. 

The reign of John Comnenus (1118-1143) was 
perhaps the brightest in the later years of the Empire. 
** Feared by his nobles, beloved by his people,'' says 
Gibbon, " he was never reduced to the painful neces- 
sity of punishing, or even of pardoning, his enemies. 
During his government of twenty-five years ^ the 
penalty of death was abolished in the Roman Empire, 
a law of mercy most delightful to the human theorist, 
but of which the practice, in a large and vicious com- 
munity, is seldom consistent with the public safety. 
Severe to himself, indulgent to others, the philosophic 
Marcus would not have disdained the artless virtues of 
his successor, derived from his heart and not borrowed 
from the schools. He despised and moderated the 
stately magnificence of the Byzantine Court, so oppres- 
sive to the people, so contemptible to the eye of reason. 
Under such a prince innocence had nothing to fear and 
merit had everything to hope ; and without assuming 
the tyrannic office of a censor he introduced a gradual 
though visible reformation in the public and private 
manners of Constantinople." 

Manuel I., his youngest son, whom he chose for his 
military daring in preference to his brother Isaac, was 
**a mere knight errant, who loved fighting for fight- 

1 His reign was really only a little over twenty-four years 
and a half. 


The Medieval City 

ing's sake, and allowed his passion for excitement and 
adventure to be his only guide/' It is said that he 
made a special payment to secure the good will of the 
clergy on his accession ; but he was vicious as well as 
passionate, and the crimes of his court received a 
licence from his own acts. Buffoonery as well as vice 
seems to have marked the life of Constantinople, for 
the popular minister, John Kameratos, was renowned 
as the greatest drinker of his time, as being able to 
swallow a vast quantity of raw beans and drink ** the 
water contained in an immense porphyry vase at two 
draughts," and he was favoured by the Emperor chiefly 
for his powers as a singer and dancer. Manuel him- 
self was skilled in surgery and was a theologian as 
well as a warrior, but his abilities were of no service 
to the Empire. The citizens saw the Italians en- 
croaching upon them at every point. Heavy taxation 
was continued, but the army and navy alike decayed in 
his time. Only the public games were kept up, and 
outwardly Constantinople was as gay and wealthy as 
ever. Benjamin of Tudela, a Jew who visited the 
city in il6i, wrote of the magnificence that he saw 
everywhere, and the riches of the traders and nobles, 
and in the Hippodrome he said that " lions, bears and 
leopards were shown, and all nations of the world were 
represented, together with surprising feats of jugglery." 
With all this, and especially after the war with Venice, 
which was ended in 1 1 74, the city was really becoming 
poor, and it might almost seem defenceless. Manuel 
did much for the defences ; a large part of the land 
walls, defending the palace of Blachernae, was added 
by him ; an inscription on the tower close to Narli 
Kapoussi records his repair of part of the sea wall ; 
and he built many other gates and additional fortifica- 
tions. It was indeed time. 

The eleventh century saw the position of the 


The Story of Constantinople 

Empire and the safety of the imperial city continually 
threatened not only by active attacks but by internal 
dissensions ; dissensions which, it has been well said, 
would have settled themselves a century before, but 
which now both weakened the city and made its 
weakness apparent to the world. 

How weak the city was, was seen in 1 1 46, when a 
Norman fl^et sailed up the Hellespont, and the ad- 
miral robbed the imperial gardens of fruit. Bulgars, 
Serbians, Turks, had all at different times threatened 
the city, and without success, but its internal weakness 
was made the more evident as the century went on by 
the division which was arising between the Emperor 
and his people. Manuel I. was believed to be at heart 
a Latin ; his campaigns of the West, his marriages to 
Western wives, his neglect of the fleet, his encourage- 
ment of foreign settlers in the capital, all increased his 
unpopularity. Matters were not improved under the 
boy, Alexius II., when the struggle between his 
mother and the minister she favoured, and his sister, 
took place in the streets of the city, and in S. Sophia 
itself. The dynastic dispute was complicated, like all 
the disputes in Constantinople, by ecclesiastical interests, 
and the return of a patriarch who had been driven out 
was one of those picturesque scenes in which the people 
delighted, which showed their independence of the 
government, but revealed also, only too plainly, that 
there was now no union in Church or State. 

A few words may suffice to explain and date the 
events of the latter part of the twelfth century. 

Manuel up to his death in 1 1 80 retained all the 
appearance of a victorious Emperor, though he suffered 
a severe defeat in 11 76, at Myriokephalon in Phrygia, 
from the Seljukian Turks. Crusading princes, the 
Turkish Sultan Kilidji Arslan, and the Christian King, 
Amaury of Jerusalem, visited him at Constantinople, 

The Mediaeval City 

and were received with ostentatious splendour. Alexius 
II., his son and successor, was a boy of thirteen, and 
in two years the streets of the imperial city witnessed a 
desperate encounter between his supporters and those of 
his sister Maria, which swept up to the walls of S. 
Sophia. Then Andi'onicus, the cousin of the Em- 
peror Manuel, was recalled from banishment, and he 
signalised his acquisition of power by a massacre of the 
Latins in the city. From this he proceeded to slay 
every one who stood in his way, till, in 1 183, having 
murdered the young Alexius, he seated himself on the 
throne. For two years he continued a course of crimes 
greater than those that any sovereign ever committed, 
till a popular insurrection crowned a descendant of the 
great Alexius. Andronicus, though the vilest of men, 
had made a serious effort to reform the administration 
and reduce the influence of the nobles. His fall left 
the Empire to its fate. 

The miserable end of the wickedest of the Em- 
jterors, as it is told by a recent writer from the pages 
of Nicetas, may well serve to illustrate the horrors 
with which the Empire in its fall was only too 

He was confined in the prison called after the Cretan 
Anemas, who was first imprisoned there by Alexius 
Comnenus. " He quitted it only to die at the hands 
of his infuriated subjects. On the eve of his execution 
he was bound with chains about the neck and feet, 
like some wild animal, and dragged into the presence 
of his successor, Isaac Angelus, to be subjected, to 
every indignity. He was reviled, l)eaten, struck on 
the mouth ; he had his hair and beard plucked, his 
teeth knocked out, his right hand struck ofl^ with an 
axe, and then was sent back to his cell, and left 
there without food or water or attention of any kind 
for several days. When brought forth for execution, 


The Story of Constantinople 

he was dressed like a slave, blinded of one eye, 
mounted upon a mangy camel, and led in mock 
triumph through the streets of the city to the Hippo- 
drome, amidst a storm of hatred and insult, seldom, 
if ever, witnessed under similar circumstances in a 
civilised community. At the Hippodrome he was 
hung by the feet on the architrave of two short 
columns which stood beside the figures of a wolf 
and a hyena, his natural associates. But neither his 
pitiable condition, nor his quiet endurance of pain, 
nor his pathetic cry, " Kyrie eleison, why dost 
Thou break the bruised reed ? '* excited the slightest 
commiseration. Additional and indescribable insults 
were heaped upon the fallen tyrant, until his agony 
was brought to an end by three men who plunged 
their swords into his body, to exhibit their dexterity 
in the use of arms.'* ^ 

Isaac Angelus vv^as little more worthy of his position 
than the man whom he displaced. He gave himself 
to enjoyment, to building, to luxury of every kind. 
He lost Bulgaria and Cyprus, and when his own 
general, Alexis Branas, turned against him and led 
his troops to besiege Constantinople, it was saved 
only by Conrad of Montferrat, the husband of the 
Emperor's sister Theodora, who was then in the city 
on his way to the East. 

The troops of Branas assembled outside the walls 
and attacked, but were driven back from the gate 
of Charisius (Edirn^ Kapoussi) : the famous icon 
of the Blessed Virgin, believed to have been painted 
by S. Luke, was carried round the walls ; then a sortie 
led by Conrad scattered the rebels and brought the 
revolt to an end. But Isaac was incapable of ruling. 
He retained his throne with difficulty for ten years. 
At length in 1195, when he was on the way to the 

1 Vail MilUngen, IValh 0/ Constantinople ^ p. 157. 

The Mediaeval City 

Bulgarian war, he was betrayed by his brother Alexius. 
He was not, as would have happened two centuries 
before, made a monk : he was imprisoned in a monastery, 
blinded, and left to die in peace. No one foresaw his 

Alexius III., called also Angelus Comnenus, was 
no wit better than his brother, but he had a clever 
wife, Euphrosyne, in whom the worst characteristics 
of the Eastern Empresses were reproduced. Her 
profligacy and extravagance completed the ruin of the 
Empire, and when the fourth crusade turned its arms 
against the city it fell an easy prey. 

It has been well said of the rule of the early 
Byzantines — during the period, that is, that extended 
from the foundation of the city by Constantine down 
to the death of Michael VI, and the end of the 
Macedonian dynasty — that no other government has 
ever existed in Europe which has secured for so long 
a time the same advantages to the people. There 
was a general security for life and property ; there 
was a magnificent system of law ; there was a genuine 
and commanding influence of religion ; and municipal 
government was, for the age, well developed. But 
this can only be accepted with considerable qualifica- 
tions. If the government itself did not change, the 
dynasties often did ; if there was a good code of 
laws, there were terrible and barbarous punishments, 
and there were often periods of mob-rule ; if there 
was a sound system of municipal government, it was 
far from a complete check on the excesses of imperial 

But the most striking characteristic of these centuries, 
when all deductions have been made, is the stability of 
the government. As the city and the Empire were 
ruled under Isaac Comnenus, so, save for changes 
more superficial than real, had it been ruled under 


The Story of Constantinople 

Justinian. The new families of merchant princes that 
had grown up and Hned the Bosphorus with their 
houses, were as much in touch with the old system 
as the old families had been. Trading interests had 
become stronger and stronger with each century, and 
trading interests are in the main conservative. But 
the century and a half that followed the accession 
of the Comneni told inevitably in favour of further 
changes. First there was the slow and terrible 
advance of the Turks, cutting away strip by strip 
the outskirts of the Empire. Then there was the ex- 
haustion proceeding from the constant passage through 
the Empire of crusaders, often pillaging, always con- 
tending, a continual drain upon the material resources 
of the land. More important still was the great and 
rapid increase of dynastic contentions. As ever, in- 
ternal dissension was the real cause of the self-betrayal 
which gave up Constantinople in 12 04 to the robbers 
of the West. 

The condition of Constantinople at the beginning of 
the thirteenth century has been the subject of more 
than one exhaustive examination. We must briefly 
summarise what is known of the capital at this period 
of its greatest riches, and perhaps its greatest weak- 
ness. First and most prominently, it was a great 
commercial centre. Subordinate to its commerce were 
its art, rich and wonderful though that was, its military 
power, even its popular and all-embracing religious 
spirit. Commerce influenced all these. It gathered 
together all the nations of the earth, and it inspired 
them with greed for its treasures. Constantinople was, 
as it still is to some extent, in spite of the revolutions 
wrought by railways and by steamships, the most im- 
portant outlet of commerce in the world. All the 
traffic of Asia naturally came that way ; the great 
caravans of Central Asia, the trade of Palestine, Asia 

The Me di aval City 

Minor, Persia, even Egypt, journeyed naturally to the 
New Rome. So naturally was Constantinople the 
centre of trade that she acted as a sort of universal 
banker. Her coins were in use in India and in distant 

And the merchants who made their living in Con- 
stantinople had, like those of the Hansa in London, 
their own permanent settlements. You may see to-day 
the great khans or caravanserais where the merchants 
and pilgrims congregate, the walls strong to resist 
attacks, the gates closed at nightfall, the arrangements 
for common meals and common ablutions ; and as you 
pass by you see the dark figures clustering in the door- 
ways, or sitting on the marble steps, in their picturesque 
colours, and v/ith that strange far-away look on their 
f^ices that you learn to know so well in the land where 
there is never any more pressing need than repose, or 
any delight more sweet. The custom of these great 
common lodoings, and very often the buildings them- 
selves, go back far into the Middle Ages. In the 
thirteenth century they held great colonies of mer- 
chants strong for mutual combination and defence. 
Many of them were near to the wharves, as close 
within the walls as might be, and some without. No 
visitor to-day can fail to be struck by the great khan 
hard by the Mosque of Valide Sultan, which he 
passes when he has crossed the Galata Bridge on his 
way to S. Sophia. 

The traders of the thirteenth century were by no 
means all Christians. Jews and even Mohammedans 
were allowed to settle in the imperial city, and Geoffrey 
of Vinsauf bitterly says ** it would have been r«ght even 
to have rased the city to the ground, for, if we believe 
report, it was polluted by new mosques, which its 
perfidious Emperor allowed to be built that he 
might strengthen the league with the Turks." It 


The Story of Constantinople 

seemed strange to the Western that such toleration 
should be allowed. The Jews and the Albigenses 
were the only "dissenters'* he had met; but in the 
East there were not only the Romanists, but the 
Monophysite Armenians and the Nestorian Chaldeans ; 
Jews and Mohammedans made no such very great 
addition to the parliament of religions. And they all, 
infidels and heretics alike, brought their riches to the 
great mart. As the Turks advanced over Asia, 
scattering ruin and blight before their path, the riches 
of the devastated cities fled to shelter behind the 
Byzantine walls. No city it seemed to a Jewish 
observer of the time was so rich or so full of business 
save Baghdad. Gold was nothing accounted of; it 
covered the walls and pillars of the palace, it made tiie 
throne of the Emperor, the lamps of S. Sophia, the 
vessels of many an almost forgotten church. "The 
whole Empire had been put under contribution for the 
adornment of the capital. The temples and public 
buildings of Greece, of Asia Minor, and of the islands 
of the Archipelago, had been ransacked to embellish 
what its inhabitants spoke of as the Queen City, and 
even Egypt had contributed an obelisk and many other 
monuments." All who saw the city were amazed 
at its riches, at the magnificence of its buildings, ot 
its churches, palaces, houses of nobles and merchants. 
Marble and stone houses filled the chief streets ; the 
splendid marble from the quarries of the Proconnesus, 
the stone which still stands firm in the massive dwell- 
ings of the Phanar. There were of course then as 
now many houses of wood, and fires were constant, but 
those who noted the fine houses destroyed as more than 
in the three largest cities of France, noted also that of 
those that remained as of the treasures of the churches 
there was " neither end nor measure." And with all 
this there was a profound sense of security, so often 
1 06 

The Mediceval City 

and so unwarrantably contemporaneous with a marked 
development of luxurious life. Constantinople had 
never been captured, men easily believed that it never 
would be. Its walls, so magnificent in their decay, 
had proved and were thought still to be impregnable. 
The subtle influence of Oriental habits had eaten, it 
seemed, into the life that had been so strong and fierce 
under Justinian or Heraclius. Men, as they had 
ceased to contend earnestly for faith or morals, had 
sunk down into a luxurious pleasure-loving life, almost 
like that of old Rome or modern London. Some of 
the worst features of Asiatic life had already been 
introduced ; the entourage of the Sultan that is now so 
conspicuous at the Selamlik had its counterpart in the 
court of the Comneni. The Emperor's favourites were 
coming to be the administrators of the Empire : so 
bitterly complains the chronicler Nicetas — "these 
creatures who guard the mountains and the forests 
for the Emperors' hunting with as great care as the 
old pagans guarded the groves sacred to the gods, or 
with a fidelity like that with which the destroying 
angel guards the gates of Paradise, threatened to kill 
any one who attempted to cut timber for the fleet " : it 
was at the crisis of the Empire. And while the 
Empire was ruled by eunuchs and the court by 
mistresses the Emperors of the twelfth century lived in 
luxury, effeminacy, and indolence. It had come to be 
thought — what a contrast from the days of the sleepless 
Justinian ! — that work was impossible for a Caesar of the 
East. And the example spread, as such examples 
always do, downwards. It was easy for there to be a 
general who could nor lead, soldiers who could not 
fight, sailors who could not navigate beyond the 
Bosphorus. And there was no hope of regeneration 
from a strong Church preaching righteousness. The 
Emperors in the time of their power had reduced 


The Story of Const an t'lnoph 

the patriarchs to impotence : and now there was no 
one in the Church to resist, as there was no one in the 
State to lead. Yet still the immemorial protest of the 
Church was not altogether silenced. Historians show 
that there were many priests and monks who preached 
and lived according to a high standard of morality and 
religion. Learning still survived, and piety, without 
ostentation but never wholly without influence. 

It is not necessary to detail the causes which led to 
the diversion of the fourth Crusade upon Constantinople. 
Venice, it is enough to say, betrayed the Christian cause 
by a secret treaty with the infidel, and then formed a 
plot for the capture of the city. Alexius ITT. had 
deposed Isaac Angelus in 1195 ; his son Alexius was 
allowed to escape and secretly took ship for Italy 
and eventually threw himself upon the charity of his 
brother-in-law, Philip of Swabia, the claimant of the 
imperial crown of the West. He was assisted ; and by 
a series of complicated intrigues the -Crusaders were in- 
duced to undertake the capture of Constantinople and 
the restoration of the Empire to the supposed rightful 
heir, as a step towards the accomplishment of the duty 
to which they were pledged, the recovery of the Holy 
Land. The Pope's wishes were set aside, the honest 
leaders were hoodwinked, and Dandolo won the day. 

On the 23rd of June 1204 the crusading fleet 
anchored at San Stefano. Thence they saw the 
magnificent city that lay before them. " Be sure," 
says Villehardouin, " there was not a man who did 
not tremble, because never was so great an enterprise 
undertaken by so small a number of men." Next day 
they sailed up to the Bosphorus, past the walls, crowded 
with spectators, to the anchorage of Chalcedon. The 
Emperor sent to know their intentions : they ordered 
him to surrender the crown to the young Alexius. 
Then came another of those picturesque scenes of 

The Mediaval City 

wliich the mediaeval history of the New Rome is so 
full. It was determined to show the young prince 
to the people whom he came to recover to their 
allegiance. The splendid Venetian galleys sailed up 
to the walls of the Sea of Marmora, and stopped 
where the crowds that thronged them could see. 
Then loud voices proclaimed the presence of the 
young Alexius, and demanded the loyal assent of 
the people to the restoration of his father. Only 
mocking laughter came back from the walls. 

Then the Crusaders prepared for the attack. First 
it was necessary to break the chain which crossed the 
Golden Horn from Galata, near what is now Tophanc, 
to near the point of the peninsula of Byzantium. A 
fierce attack was made on the watch-tower at Galata, 
from which the chain began. It was captured, the 
chain was loosed, and the fleet sailed up the Golden 
Horn. The army was then landed beyond the walls, 
where is now Eyoub, and took up a position opposite 
the Blachernae quarter, which had so long been felt 
to be the weakest point. They were opposed then by 
the wall of Manuel Comnenus which extended south- 
ward of the wall of Heraclius, and considerably in 
advance of the old Theodosian fortification. Moats, 
walls, towers, stood before them, a defence hitherto 
unbroken, and which even before the last fortification 
was erected it had been found impossible to over- 

And so it proved again. When the attack on July 
17, 1203, was directed against the northern point of 
the wall of the Blachernae quarter, near the Xylo-porta, 
it was utterly defeated. And so again when Dandolo, 
the old blind Doge, dauntless in bravery as adept in 
cunning, led the attack from his galleys, their success 
was but temporary. The old sea-dog had his galley 
drawn up close to the walls, threw himself on shore, 


The Story of Constantinople 

on the nfiriow strip of land that stood between the 
water and the walls, and planted the gonfalon of S. 
Mark on one of the towers. The ends of the flyhig 
bridges were thrust from the vessels on to the towers 
and thus twenty-five were captured. But tlie Vene- 
tians could not maintain their position, and when the 
Greeks were reported to have made a sortie from the 
gate of S. Romanus, south of the Blachernae quarter, 
they withdrew to help these other Crusaders who 
were attacked. 

Meanwhile within the walls disaffection with the 
government of Alexius III. was growing into readi- 
ness to accept the new sovereign to be set up by tlic 
Crusaders rather than to risk the chances of capture. 
Alexius himself would do nothing to protect the 
city : and when he brought out his troops to the 
sortie, he retired with them before any fighting took 
place. Before the next day he himself fled across 
the sea, deserting his wife and children and the city. 
The imprisoned Isaac was at once released and placed 
upon the throne. 

This was far from satisfying the greed of the 
Crusaders. It took away from them every honest 
cause for attack. 80 they demanded through Ville- 
hardouin, who has himself written us the account 
of it, that Isaac should consent to the hard terms 
which Alexius his son had agreed to — that the 
Empire should be placed under the Roman Pope ; 
that 200,000 marks of silver should be given to 
the army, and that they should be supported for a 
year ; that 10,000 of them should be taken to Egypt 
in Greek vessels at the Emperor's expense, and 
supported there for a year ; and that Isaac should 
agree, during the whole of his life, to keep five 
hundred knights for the defence of the Holy Land. 
The Emperor, though from the first he said that he 
1 10 

The Medieval City 

thought it would be impossible to carry it out, felt 
bound to give his consent to the convention. Alexius 
was crowned in S. Sophia as joint occupant of his 
father's throne, and it seemed as if the danger was 
at an end. 

But it was only just begun. Some of the Crusaders 
wanted to push on at once to the Holy Land or to 
Egypt ; but they had not enough money, and no ships. 
And the Venetians who held the ships delayed : they 
cared for nothing but that the army should be divided. 
Within the city the fiercest opposition was aroused 
when it was known that Alexius had promised to 
subordinate the Church to Rome. He was making 
large exactions too, to pay the men who had brought 
him back to his country. Feeling against him rose 
rapidly in the capital. He left with Boniface of Mont* 
fcrrat to pursue the fugitive Emperor to Adrianople. 

During his absence the populace, eager to vent theil 
rage upon the foreigners, attacked the Pisan quarter : 
a sort of retaliatory measure was the attack of the 
Crusaders on a Saracen mosque between S. Irene 
and the sea. The Saracens had legal rights of tolera- 
tion, and the Christians of Constantinople defended 
them. The riot ended, as riots so often do in the 
East, in a fire — and before it was over a great strip 
of the most thickly populated part of the city, running 
right across from the Golden Horn to the Mamora, 
was utterly destroyed. Confusion soon reigned within 
the city. The old Emperor, so long imprisoned, was 
weak and foolish ; but young Alexius was equally 
weak and enjoyed his new sovereignty without the 
.slightest dignity. He drank and gambled in the 
Crusaders' tents, took off his imperial circlet, and 
wore the woollen caps of his boon companions. And 
he could not find money to pay the incessant demands 
of the greedy host. As new taxes were levied the 


The Story of Constantinople 

citizens resisted, and eventually the Western troops 
became really in need. They had not enough pro- 
visions : why were they waiting : why were the ships 
not ready to carry them on their quest ? 

At length all the allies agreed to demand formally of 
the Emperor the payment of the money that was pro- 
mised ; if he refused they would defy him to his face. 
The scene was another of those dramatic audacities 
which so often flash across the history of the city. 
Villehardouin and five others stood before the Em- 
perors on their thrones in the palace of Blachernae, 
and their spokesman, Conan de Bethune, spoke thus : 

" We come to summon you in the presence of your 
barons to fulfil the agreement made between you and us. 
If you fulfil it, well ; if not, take note that the barons 
will hold you neither for lord nor friend, but they will 
deem themselves free to take what belongs to them as 
they can get it. They give you warning that till they 
have defied you they will do you no harm. They 
will not betray you ; that is not the custom of their 
land. Now you have heard what we have said, and 
you will take counsel on the matter how you will." 

No such speech, men said, had ever been made to a 
Roman Emperor ; and Villehardouin wonders that the 
envoys were allowed to depart in peace. But for a 
week or two nothing happened. Yet the city was 
slowly rising to fever point. Attacks were made on 
the Venetian fleet ; the people assembled in the great 
Church of S. Sophia and debated how they could 
drive out the foreigner, and replace the dastard 
Emperors. Then it seemed to Alexius that he must 
protect himself. He called on Boniface of Montferrat 
to protect the palace with Frenchmen and Italians. 
That sealed his fate. 

Alexius |;Ducas, a kinsman ot the Emperors and 
prolovestiarios of the household, whom the people called 

i 12 

The Medieval City 

"Mouitozouphlos" on account of his thick overhang- 
ing eyebrows, determined to dethrone the Caesars 
and replace them. He prevailed on Alexius to leave 
the palace for safety, and at once placed him in chains. 
In a few days both he and his father were dead, and 
Alexius V. was crowned in S. Sophia. 

The new Emperor set himself at once to defend the 
city, and at once he drew down on him the vengeance 
of the Crusaders. They were, of course, the defenders 
of Isaac Angelus and his son. " Never was so 
horrible a treason committed by any people as de- 
posing and imprisoning young Alexius," says Ville- 
hardouin, who had a few days before taken part in 
insulting him to his face. When a little later they 
lieard that he was dead, they paused for a while as 
though in dismay : their difficulties grew on them : 
the storms of a January at Constantinople made them 
reluctant to embark : and yet what could they do ? 

Henry Dandolo met the new Emperor in confer- 
ence within the walls, and demanded the submission 
of the Church to Rome and an immediate payment 
of money. It is said that there was a treacherous 
attempt to capture the Emperor. At any rate no 
compromise was arrived at, and the divergent parties 
among the Crusaders agreed to besiege the city. 
Long was the debate before the final step was taken. 
They talked, says Villehardouin in his quaint way, 
before and behind. At last it was agreed how to 
divide the spoil, how a new Emperor and a new 
patriarch should be chosen. 

On April 9, 1204, ^^ ^'^st attack was delivered, 
on the Petrion or Phanar, and the gate now called 
Petri Kapoussi at the east of the church of the 
Patriarchate was first attacked. The invaders were 
repulsed. A second attack, on the 12th, was more 
successful. " The flying bridge of the Pelerine 

H 113 

The Story of Constantinople 

lodged itself on a tower and allowed a bold French 
knight, Andre d'Urboise, to rush across, seize the 
tower, and clear a way for their comrades to follow. 
Here ladders were then landed, the walls scaled, three 
gates forced, and the city thrown open to the whole 
host of the invaders." In vain did Mourtozophoulos 
try to rally his troops ; he was forced to take refuge 
in the palace of the Bucoleon. In the night he fled 
through the Golden Gate, through which before Em- 
perors had entered only in triumphal procession. Next 
day the Crusaders entered ; the palaces were occupied ; 
the troops marched through the streets ; and then the 
horrible work of plunder and ravage began. 

Nicetas, the Grand Logothete, whose own house 
was burnt earlier in the siege, and who now had to 
escape with his family as best he might, tells piteous 
tales of the horrors that ensued. Of the destruction 
of precious things it seems impossible to draw an ade- 
quate picture. S. Sophia, then the richest as well as 
the finest church in the world, was utterly despoiled ; 
and what had been **an earthly heaven, a throne of 
divine magnificence, an image of the firmament created 
by the Almighty," became like a bare barn, and was 
defiled by the most disgraceful scenes of profanity and 

When the church had been stripped of everything 
it contained, the altars of precious metals broken up to 
be melted down, the vestments and carpets and hang- 
ings carried off, the sacred vessels packed up with the 
other plunder as if they were common things, the 
sacred icons torn down from the splendid iconostasis ; 
when the tombs of the emperors had been rifled, and 
the body of Justinian cast out like that of a criminal 
in the search for treasure, it might be thought that the 
worst was over. It was not so. Then began the 
hunt for relics which made not the least degrading 

The Mediaval City 

part of the work of these soldiers of Christ. Well 
was it said by a contemporary that if these soldiers 
had when they besieged the city the shield of the 
Lord, now when they had taken the city they threw 
away His shield and took the shield of the devil. 
Bitter, and well deserved, were the words of Nicetas. 
" You have taken up the Cross, and have sworn on it 
and on the Holy Gospels to us that you would pass 
ever the territory of Christians without shedding blood 
and without turning to the right hand or to the left. 
You told us that you had taken up arms against the 
Saracens only, and that you would steep them in their 
blood alone. You promised to keep yourselves chaste 
while you bore the Cross, as became soldiers enrolled 
under the banner of Christ, Instead of defending His 
tomb, you have outraged the faithful who are members 
of Him. You have used Christians worse than the Arabs 
used the Latins, for they at least respected women.'* 
Of the extraordinary quantity of ecclesiastical plunder 
taken by the Crusaders we have the records collected 
by Comte Riant in his monumental (and delightful) 
volumes of Exuv'ta Sacra Constant'tnoporttaria. It 
may be observed, to begin with, that he collects no 
less than a hundred and forty-four letters relating to 
the reception in the West of these stolen relics. To 
these are added endless references in the chroniclers of 
the time, who were enchanted with the riches that 
poured upon their religious houses, and displayed all 
the passion of a collector of antiquities combined with 
the business instincts of a dealer in curiosities and the 
piety of a hagiologist. In spite of all this evidence — 
and there is more of it, in inscription, later lives of the 
saints, and the like — it is impossible to discover exactly 
all that was stolen, because the lists of the relics pre- 
served in the churches of Constantinople at the actual 
time of the siege have disappeared. But it is possible 


The Story of Constantinople 

of course, from earlier lists, as well as from the sources 
already named, to discover what were the greater part 
of the relics taken. 

The riches of Constantinople were well known to 
the Crusaders when they turned to besiege it. The 
stories of the earlier crusades were well known, when 
the Greeks had loved to show the treasures of the 
imperial city, the riches of S. Sophia, and even of the 
imperial palace. In the East were almost all the most 
sacred survivals, nearly all that remained in fact, or was 
believed to remain, of the relics of the Saviour, His 
Mother, and most of His Apostles. In the West, till the 
thirteenth century, there was practically nothing but the 
relics of Western, and, therefore, comparatively modern, 
saints, and the few more sacred treasures that had been 
given by Eastern sovereigns to those of the West. 

For three days the pillage went on. Churches 
escaped no more than palaces or private houses. 
Indeed they were more greedily ransacked: and after 
the days of direct pillage there came weeks, months, 
of deliberate search for relics which had been con- 
cealed. The result was, as M. Riant says, to rob 
Constantinople of two distinct sorts of sacred objects ; 
of relics, with or without their reliquaries, and oi 
ecclesiastical furniture. It seems that the treasures 
taken were supposed to be placed in a common fund 
and divided proportionately among the nations con- 
cerned ; but there was a great deal of chicanery and 
jobbery as well as of direct spoliation ; ecclesiastical 
furniture certainly was supposed to be divided like the 
other booty, but the relics were regarded as too sacred 
for anything but direct robbery. It should be added, 
also, that much that was not taken at lirst was acquired 
during the period of the Latin Empire in ways more or 
less legitimate. The robbery went on for forty years. 

Time would fail to tell of the wonderful things that 

The Mediaval City 

were discovered and stolen. Almost every country in 
Europe received some fragments of the True Cross, 
found by S. Helena. Besides this there were drops 
of the Saviour's Blood, one of His teeth, some of His 
hair, the purple robe, some of the bread blessed at the 
Last Supper, and countless relics of the Blessed Virgin 
and the Apostles. The heads of S. John Baptist 
and of many of the Apostles found their svay to the 
West. Venice was incomparably the largest gainer, 
but even the little church of Bromholm in Norfolk, by 
a gift which was the result of a double robbery, became 
the possessor of a fragment of the true Cross, The 
Crusaders were not content with taking relics of the 
primitive Church, but must needs take also the mortal 
remains of the Greek Fathers ; you may see the head 
of S. Chrysostom to-day in the cathedral of Pisa. 

The reliquaries, the exquisite examples of Byzantine 
art, that were scattered about the West, remain very 
often even now to witness to the completeness of the 
spoliation. But artistically the things that were 
destroyed, broken up or melted down, were far more 
precious than those that survived. If S. Mark's still 
possesses the horses that once stood in the Hippodrome 
of Constantinople, we know that magnificent statues of 
Juno, of Paris, of Bellerophon, an exquisite figure of 
Helen, of which Nicetas pathetically deplores that 
" she who had formerly led all spectators captive 
could not soften the heart of the barbarians," and 
many ancient works, statues, medallions, vases, were 
destroyed in the furnace. There are remains of 
ancient art in Constantinople to-day ; but when we 
think of the pillage of 1204 ^'"'^ of the Mohammedan 
Conquest we marvel that there is anything more 
ancient than the sixteenth century, or more valuable 
than a kettle or a candlestick of old time, to be 
found in the whole city. 


The Story of Constantinople 

The capture of the city was followed by the election, 
by twelve electors representing the Crusaders, of an 
Emperor for the throne of the Caesars. Baldwin Count 
of Flanders, by what process of intrigue we do not 
know, was chosen. He was carried in triumph by 
Moniferrat and the great lords ; he received the rever- 
ence of those who had been his equals in the campaign ; 
he was led in pride to S. Sophia, and, with the Latin 
rite but wearing the Byzantine regalia, he was con- 
secrated, crowned and enthroned a week after his 
election, as Caesar and Augustus. 

But this was not all. It is possible that in time the 
citizens, weary of their decadent rulers, might have 
come to accept without active discontent the rule of a 
gallant and chivalrous Christian knight such as Bald- 
win. But the Crusaders, and most of all the Pope, 
would not be content with this. If they were justified 
at all in the havoc they had made it was only because 
the Easterns were heretics and idolaters and schis- 
matics. The Church of Constantinople was "re- 
bellious and odious" to that of Rome. It must be 
brought to submission. So a century later the case is 
summed up, ** God delivered the city into the hands of 
the Latins because the Greeks declared that the Eloly 
Ghost proceeded only from the Father, and celebrated 
the mass with leavened bread." Such was the feel- 
ing, — though the expression of it is somewhat of an 
anachronism, — that animated now the leaders of the 
hosts, which, sated with their debauchery, began to feel 
something of an inevitable remorse. 

But Innocent III. was of too pure a soul to coun- 
tenance the iniquity that had been committed. Among 
all the shameless hypocrisies of the time his words of 
denunciation ring out true. Even the union of the 
Churches on which he had set his heart seemed to him 
now to be impossible. " Disappointment, shame, and 

The Medi(xval City 

anxiety weaken us when we ask whether the Greek 
Church can enter into union with the Apostolic see 
when that Church had seen among the Latins only 
the works of darkness." 

Meanwhile the Venetians set canons in the Churcii 
of S. Sophia, and elected Morosini to be patriarch. It 
was an empty honour. In fifty-seven years a Greek 
again was seated on the throne of Justinian, and the 
Liturgy of S. Chrysostom was again sung in S. 
Sophia ; but long before that revolts had made the 
Latin hold on the East more and more precarious, 
and the city more and more able to reassert its 
ancient independence. 

4. From the Latin Conquest to the Conquest 
BY THE Turks. 

It is unnecessary to tell of the division of the Empire 
among the conquerors, or of how a daughter of Alexius 
III. wedded the heroic Greek who still fought on, 
Theodore Lascaris, and was the ancestress of one 
who eventually brought back the old Empire ; of how 
Mourtozouphlos was caught by the Latins and cast 
down from the top of the column of Arcadius, or 
of how Greek states sprang into existence on every 
side ; how Baldwin the Emperor was captured by 
the Bulgarians and died a horrible death. These 
events all happened within two years. Henry, the 
brother of Baldwin, reigned in his stead. Henry 
Dandolo the old doge died " in the fulness of years 
and glory " and was buried, it would seem, in S. 
Sophia, where the great slab that covered his grave is 
still to be seen. Ten years later Henry the Emperor 
passed away, and Peter of Courtenay, husband of his 
sister Yolande reigned in his stead. He reigned 
though crowned in Rome, only to be captured on 


The Story of Const ant in oph 

his way to Constantinople, and to pass away from 
history to an unknown fate. Robert, his son, was 
crowned in S. Sophia in 1221. His fate was hardly 
less ignominious. His successors, the child Baldwin II. 
(Courtenay) and John of Brienne, were besieged in 
Constantinople by the Greek so-called Emperor of 
Nicasa and John Asen, the Bulgarian king, but the 
aged joint- Emperor successfully defended the city. 
The young Baldwin went as a beggar to the chief 
courts of Europe, was the pensioner of S. I^ouis, 
seated himself with difficulty on the throne, descended 
to an ignoble marriage treaty with a Mohammedan 
Sultan and sold the Crown of Thorns to the king of 
the Franks. 

In the weakness into which they had fallen, it is 
not to be wondered that the sui'vivors of the Latin 
conquerors were easily vanquished by the advancing 
power of the Greeks, and on July 25th, 1261, John 
Ducas and Michael Palaeologus were welcomed back 
by the exultant Greeks to the throne of the Caesars. 

It was Alexius Strategopoulos, General and Caesar, 
who captured the city. By night he led his men to 
the gate of the Peg^ (tJXtj rric, ■Trrj'/yj;) — the 
gate which led out to the spring of Balukli, now 
called the gate of Selivria. The Latins had built up 
the entrance, but some of the soldiers scaled the walls, 
and aided by friends within, killed the guards, broke 
down the barricade, and opened the gate. A few 
days later the Emperor, Michael Palaeologus, entered 
in triumph. He walked as far as the church of S. 
John of the Studium. Then he mounted his horse 
and rode on to S. Sophia. So the Greeks had won 
back their city. But the results of the Latin con- 
quest and the years of strife that followed it were 
not undone. The historian of that conquest has thus 
summed them up. 

The Medieval City 

** The results of the Fourth Crusade upon European 
civilisation were altogether disastrous. The light of 
Greek civilisation, which Byzantium had kept burning 
for nearly nine centuries after Constantine had chosen 
it as his capital, was suddenly extinguished. The 
hardness, the narrowness and the Hebraicism of western 
civilisation were left to develop themselves with little 
admixture from the joyousness and the beauty of Greek 
life. Every one knows that the Turkish conquest of 
Constantinople dispersed throughout the West a know- 
ledge of Greek literature, and that such knowledge 
contributed largely to the bringing about of the 
Reformation and of modern ways of thought. One 
cannot but regret that the knowledge of Greek literature 
was so dearly bought. If the dispersion of a few 
Greeks, members of a conquered and therefore despised 
race, but yet carrying their precious manuscripts and 
knowledge among hostile peoples, could produce so 
important a result, what effect might not reasonably 
have been hoped for if the great crime against which 
Innocent protested had not been committed ? Western 
Europe saw the sparks of learning dispersed among 
its people. The light which had been continuously 
burning in a never forgotten and, among the literary 
class, a scarcely changed language, had been put out. 
The crime of the Fourth Crusade handed over 
Constantinople and the Balkan peninsula to six 
centuries of barbarism, and rendered futile the attempts 
of Innocent and subsequent statesmen to recover 
Syria and Asia Minor to Christendom and civilisation. 
If we would understand the full significance of the 
Latin conquest of Constantinople, we must try to 
realise what might now be the civilisation of Western 
Europe if the Romania of six centuries ago had not 
been destroyed. One may picture not only the Black 
Sea, the Bosphorus, and the Marmora surrounded by 


The Story of Constantinople 

progressive and civilised nations, but even the eastern 
and southern shores of the Mediterranean given back 
again to good government and a reHgion which is not 
a barrier to civiHsation." ^ 

The restored Empire of the Greeks was ruled for 
some years with wisdom and enthusiasm. Michael 
Palaeologus was of an ancient family already allied 
with the imperial house, and " in his person the 
splendour of birth was dignified by the merit of the 
soldier and statesman." He was admitted as the 
guardian, and then «s the colleague, of the child- 
Emperor John. The gallant Varangians, the northern 
soldiers whose force had been replenished by fresh 
blood from year to year, and had never deserted the 
imperial house, had raised him to the throne, and he 
ruled with a severity and determination that bore 
down all opposition. 

It was his first task to cleanse and restore the 
palace of Blachernae, left filthy and dilapidated by 
Baldwin II. Then he set about the restoration of the 
walls. His chief attention was paid to the sea walls, 
which he raised seven feet by means of wooden 
erections covered with hide ; and later he began to 
make a double line of walls to protect the sea side of 
the city as the land side was protected. He took 
the harbour of the Kontoscalion (in front of what 
is now Koum Kapoussi) for a dockyard, had it 
dredged and deepened, protected by an iron mole 
and " surrounded with immense blocks, closed with 
iron gates.'* But he was determined to rule alone, 
and before the end of the year he had blinded his 
young colleague and banished him. He was ex- 
communicated by the patriarch Arsenius, and a schism 
was caused by his banishment of the prelate, which 
was not healed for nearly fifty years. 

^ Pea IS, Conquest of Constantinople^ p. 40 3. 

The Mediaeval City 

Fearing a renewed invasion by the Latins he did his 
utmost to make alliances to protect himself. He estab- 
lished the Genoese in a settled concession at Galata, 
hoping to make them a firm support against their rivals 
of Venice. But this act only made the commercial 
rivalries stronger, and planted a power which soon be- 
came hostile on the very shores of the capital and in 
command of the Golden Horn. " The Roman Em- 
pire,*' says Gibbon, " might soon have sunk into a 
province of Genoa, if the Republic had not been 
checked by the ruin of her freedom and naval power." 
No less disastrous was the attempt of Michael to unite 
with the Roman Church. Urban IV. had taken up 
the cause of the young Baldwin and called on the 
j)Owers to make Crusade. Michael endeavoured to 
meet him by diplomacy if not by submission. His 
envoys attended the council held at Lyons in 1274 
by the Pope Gregory X. Veccus, who had long op- 
posed the union of the churches, underwent a sharp im- 
prisonment in the prison of Anemas, but being convinced 
of the error of his opinions was released to mount the 
patriarchal throne. But all these measures were in 
vain. On questions of faith it should not have been 
impossible for candid men, as the history of Veccus 
shows, to bring the churches into essential union, but the 
claim of the Popes to supremacy, which they emphasised 
by the mission of legates, was one which the Church of 
Constantinople has never admitted. Michael died in 
1282. Already his attempt had failed, and he died 
excommunicated by pope and patriarch. The restore/ 
of the Empire was unworthy to rank among its heroes, 
and the historian of the Greek people has described 
him in language of severity that is well deserved. 
" He was selfish, hypocritical, able and accomplished, 
an inborn liar, vain, meddling, ambitious, cruel and 
rapacious. He has gained renown as the restorer of 


The Story of Constantinople 

the Eastern Empire ; he ought to be execrated as the 
corrupter of the Greek race, for his reign affords a 
signal example of the extent to which a nation may be 
degraded by the misconduct of its sovereign when 
he is entrusted with despotic power." 

Of his intrigues, the most important of which was his 
encouragement of the revolt of John of Procida against 
the French in Sicily, ever memorable as the Sicilian 
Vespers, it can only be said that they may have saved 
him from attack. Catalan mercenaries, who after the 
expulsion of the French from Sicily came into the ser- 
vice of the Empire, overwhelmed its fairest provinces 
with rapine and disaster. It is a history which makes 
Gibbon for once ascend the pulpit of the preacher of 
righteousness. " I shall not, I trust, be accused of 
superstition ; but I must remark that, even in this world, 
the natural order of events will sometimes assume the 
strong appearances of moral retribution. The first 
Palaeologus had saved his Empire by involving the 
kingdoms of the West in rebellion and blood ; and 
from these seeds of discord uprose a generation of iron 
men, who assaulted and endangered the Empire of his 


Andronicus II., indeed, had a long but disastrous 
reign. He continued his father's works at the harbour 
of the Kontoscalion. He repaired the sea walls, and 
in 1 3 17, when his wife, Irene, died and left him some 
money, the impoverished Cassar was able to undertake 
a general repair of the whole of the fortifications. 
Otherwise he is known in the history of the city only 
for his disputes with the patriarch, his abject sub- 
missions, and his misfortunes. His son, Michael IX., 
was from 1295 to 1320 the associate of his throne, 
and won universal praise. His grandson, Andronicus 
HI., sank to the pleasures which had disgraced so 
many of his predecessors, but when his iniquities were 


The Media val City 

too flagrant to be concealed, when his brother Manuel 
was murdered, it was believed, through his orders, and 
his father, Michael IX., died of grief, he took up 
arms against his grandfather, secured his own corona- 
tion, and then the absolute submission of the aged 
Emperor Andronicus lived in 1332 in the great 
palace, but in absolute penury. He took monastic 
vows and died, no longer as Emperor, but as the poor 
monk Antony. 

Andronicus the younger (III.), though he married 
princesses of Western houses, did not add to the 
dignity of the Eastern Empire. He died in 1341, 
and left behind him a child of eight, the son of his 
second wife, Agnes of Savoy. He was protected by 
John Cantacuzene, who had protected his father, and 
finally won him the crown, and who himself bore 
a character that was high among the best of the 
Byzantine statesmen and generals. But palace in- 
trigues and attacks of interested politicians against 
him, at last obliged him, as he declares — for he is his 
own historian — to assume the Imperial title. In the 
war that ensued it seems that while the people sup- 
ported the Palaeologi, the oflicials supported the new 
claimant. It gave the opportunity to the Servian king, 
Stephen Dashan, to extend his territories and threaten 
to replace the Emperors as leaders of the Greek 
peoples. Strip by strip the territory of the Empire 
was shorn away, and Serbians, Turks, and Albanians 
left little to be conquered by Cantacuzene. At last, 
after previous failures, he advanced to the walls again 
in 1347 and was admitted secretly by his friends 
through the Golden Gate. For once, what was 
practically a change of dynasty was accomplished 
without bloodshed. John Cantacuzene became Em- 
peror and gave his daughter in marriage to John 
Palaeologus. It is said by a contemporary that so poor 


The Story of Constantinople 

were even the imperial houses that at the wedding 
feast the illustrious personages had to be served in 
earthenware and pewter : strange change from the time 
when the very walls of the palace glittered with gold. 
In seven years the balance of power changed com- 
pletely. War, first joint against the Serbians, then 
hostile against each other, was ended, it seemed, in 
favour of Cantacuzene by the assistance — a woeful 
precedent — of the Turks, now settled in Europe and 
the masters of Adrianople. But when the successful 
Emperor tried to associate his son Matthev/ on the 
throne, the feeling of Constantinople turned strongly 
against him. In 1358, John Palasologus whose seat of 
government had been fixed at Thessalonica, arrived, 
with but two galleys and two thousand men, on a dark 
night at the gate of the Hodegetria on the Sea of 
Marmora. Bringing their vessels quite close to the 
gate, they made every sign of distress, throwing out 
oil-jars and uttering cries for help. The stratagem 
succeeded ; the guards opened the gate and came to 
their assistance. They were overpowered, and the 
troops rushed in and captured the adjoining tower. 
The city rose in favour of the young Palaeologus, and 
John Cantacuzene with great willingness, if he is to be 
believed in his own case, retired from the tlirone and 
entered a monastery, where he died in 1383. 

Each change of Emperor marked the more clearly 
the coming end of the Empire. John VI. Palaeologus 
"carelessly watched the decline of the Empire for 
thirty-six years," from the day when he became sole 
ruler. He saw the growth of the Turkish power, and 
he sought the aid of Urban V. for the final contest 
that he saw must come. In 1361 he was decisively 
defeated before Adrianople, and in later years he was 
little better than the vassal of the Sultan. He himself 
went to Rome in 1369, and submitted to the Latin 

Ihe Medieval City 

Church, on the points of the Procession of the Holy 
Spirit, the use of unleavened bread and the supremacy 
of the Roman See. So poor was he that he was 
arrested at Venice, on his return, for debt. The 
Caesar of the East had indeed sunk low. 

He was compelled to aid Sultan Murad with troops, 
and during his absence in Asia, apparently in 1374, his 
eldest son, Andronicus, secured Constantinople, in alli- 
ance with the Turkish Sultan's son, also a rebel against 
his father. By the aid of Murad, Andronicus was 
seized. He was imprisoned in the tower of Anemas 
with his wife and his son John, then only five years 
old. He was to have been blinded, but perhaps in 
mercy the sight of one eye was not harmed. After 
two years he was released, and he at once made 
alliance with the Genoese and with the Sultan Bayezid, 
and marched to the capital. He caught his father and 
his brother Manuel, who were at the palace of the 
Pege, now the village of Balukli, and sent them with 
his younger brother Theodore to the prison in which 
he himself had been confined, " as Zeus," says the 
historian Ducas, with a classic touch such as the 
Greeks always delighted to use, " cast his father 
Kronos and his brothers Pluto and Poseidon into 
Tartarus." Andronicus entered the city by the Selivri 
Kapoussi (gate of the Pege), and held the throne for 
two years and a half. Bayezid urged him to kill his 
father and brothers, but he would not ; and within two 
years, in some way, as to which the historians — none 
of whom are strictly contemporary — differ, they 
escaped, and with the aid of Murad, or Bayezid 
(for again the dates are doubtful), attacked the city, 
entered by the gate of S. Romanus, and defeated 
Andronicus, who was allowed to retire to Selivria as 
ruler of the adjacent lands. In 1384 Manuel was 
recognised as heir to his father. These changes were 


The Story of Constantinople 

all effected by the aid of the Turks, and of the cities 
of Genoa and Venice, who, it might seem, gave the 
city to whom they would ; and when John VI. began 
to repair the walls which thirty-six years before he 
had himself despoiled, he was stopped by order of 
Bayezid and compelled to destroy what he had done. 

In his time decay visibly laid its hand on the still 
splendid city. Many of the streets, it is said, were 
almost in ruins, the palaces empty, and the costliest and 
most beautiful treasures of the ancient Byzantine art had 
been sold to the Genoese and the Venetians. But 
for the defeat of Bayezid by Timur, the prize would 
have fallen into the hands of the Turks half a century 
before it was theirs at last. 

Manuel II. had an unquiet reign. Forced to yield 
on every side to the demands of the Sultan, blockaded 
in Constantinople, he was at last forced to admit his 
cousin John, the son of Andronicus, as joint Emperor, 
in 1399, a title which he seems so have borne but a 
short time. 

For a while it seemed that the distractions and 
defeats of the Turks might give opportunity for a 
revival of the Empire. In 1 4 1 1 a Turkish attack on 
Constantinople was driven off ; but the Greeks were 
incapable of using their own victories or the weakness 
of their enemies ; and though Manuel made some 
reforms in the administration the members of his house- 
hold thwarted him on every side. The years of peace 
were wasted, and in 1422 Murad II. appeared before 
the walls of the imperial city. 

The defeat of the Turks — their last — was soon 
followed by the death of Manuel ( 1425). John VII. 
set himself to repair the walls, but he could not re- 
build or repopulate the city. The decay, in spite of 
the outward splendour, the disgraceful subjection of the 
Emperor to the Turks, and the hatred of the Greeks 

Ihe Mediaval City 

for the Westerns, all struck the keen observer Ber- 
trandon de la Brocquiere, a Burgundian knight, who 
visited the city in 1433. ^^^ despairing effort of the 
Emperor was to win the help of a new crusade by 
union with the Latin Church. 

Those who have stood in admiration before the 
frescoes of Benozzo Gozzoli in the Riccardi Palace at 
Florence will remember the solemn impressive figure 
of John Palasologus, in his gorgeous robes, as he rides in 
the procession of the Magi, a stately personage con- 
trasting markedly with the bourgeois Medici who 
follow him. Italians knew the Eastern Emperor, for 
in 1 438 he stood with the patriarch before the Council 
of Ferrara, and in the next year, in Florence itself 
accepted, with his bishops (save the bishop of 
Ephesus), the doctrines of the Latins, and joined on 
July 6, 1439, in the proclamation beneath the dome of 
Brunelleschi, then only three years completed, of the 
unity of the Catholic Church of East and West. 

When he returned to Constantinople the people 
refused to accept the union, and even the bishops who 
had signed the decrees of Florence now repudiated their 
act as a sin. No help came from the West ; and John 
died in 1448, having preserved his throne even by 
temporising with the Turks. 

Constantine Palaeologus was the eldest surviving son 
of the Emperor Manuel. He could only ascend the 
throne by the consent of the Sultan, and when that was 
obtained he was crowned in Sparta, where he had 
ruled. On the 12th of March 1449 he entered Con- 
stantinople. Tlje city was receiving its new lord 
with exultation and joy, says his friend and chronicler 
Phrantzes. So long as Murad still reigned they were 
indeed safe, but when Mohammed IL became Sultan 
it was clear that there would be war. 

Constantine turned — it was his only hope — to the 

1 129 

The Story ofConstcuitinople 

West for aid. He sent an embassy to Rome begging 
for help, and showing willingness to renew the union of 
the Churches. The Pope, Nicholas V., sent back 
Cardinal Isidore, who had once been a Russian bishop, 
but, having accepted the decrees of Florence, had 
remained loyal to them, and was an exile from his 
country in consequence. He arrived at Constantinople 
in November 1452, bringing some money and a few 
troops. On December 12, 1452, the union was 
ratified in S. Sophia, and Cardinal Isidore said mass 
according to the Latin rite. From that day the 
people regarded the church as desecrated. In the 
church and monastery of the Pantokrator the monk 
Gennadios preached against the crime and folly of the 
union. Many of the great nobles cried out against it ; 
one even declared that the Sultan would be a far better 
lord than the Pope. As Constantine rode through the 
streets daily the mob mocked and reviled him ; and 
some cried out " rather than that we should be Latins 
would we be Turks." The holy sacrifice of the Body 
and Blood of Christ they rejected, declaring that it 
was polluted. Even if an angel from heaven had 
descended and declared that he would save the city if 
only the people would unite with the Roman Church 
the people would have refused. So the chroniclers 
describe the disunion within. Without, the preparations 
were complete. 

The conquerors of Constantinople had had a romantic 
history. A horde of barbarians, coming from the far 
East, and a branch of the race known to Chinese his- 
torians as the Hiung-no, they emerge into history 
in the sixth century, then assuming the name of Turk, 
which they were to make famous. In the latter half of 
that century they became known to the rulers of Con- 
stantinople. In 568 embassies came to the Emperor 
from the Northern Turks. Eight years later an 

The Mediaeval City 

embassy was sent to the Southern Turks. At the very 
end of the century an embassy came to the Emperor 
Mauiice in 598 from the Khan of the Turks, now 
claiming to be a great sovereign. But it was more 
than six centuries before the Empire came face to face 
with the actual tribe which should found tlie power 
that was to take its place. Pressed hard by the 
Seljuks, with territories limited to the Bithynian pro- 
vmce, it was not till the beginning of the fourteenth 
century that Osman, the founder of the Osmanlis, 
came forward as a leader who should begin a line of 
mighty sovereigns. 

Legends surround the life of Osman ; his dream of 
a great tree which should overshadow the v/orld, of 
Constantinople won by clashing swords, of the ring 
of universal Empire, his romantic love suit, belong 
perhaps to history, but only as it appears magnified 
by an imagination fired by the wonderful successes 
of later years. More certain are the capture of 
Nicaea and of Bru'^a, accomplished by his son, — the 
latter still the picture of a Turkish city, with its 
innumerable mosques, its trees and gardens, its popu- 
lation half-military, but now wholly languid and 
quiescent. The sword of Osman is still the sign of 
power among his descendants. It rests in the tiirbeh 
of Eyub, tlie companion of Mohammed himself, who 
fell not by the sword but by disease during the first 
Moslem attack on Constantinople in 672, and over 
whose grave Mohammed the Conquero built a tomb, 
to the Moslems the most sacred of all in the city they 
had made their own. Osman was brought to Brusa 
only to be buried. His son Orchan carried fire and sword 
nearer and nearer to the goal. It w as he who founded the 
teirible corps of the Janissaries, Christian child captives 
trained by the sternest methods to be the fiercest cliam- 
pions of Islam. In 1326 Orchan captured Nicomedia ; 


Ihe Story of Constant'uiople 

in 1330 he defeated the imperial host led against him 
by the Emperor himself, and Nicaea fell into his hands. 
He showed the wisdom and restraint which, combined 
with the daring and ferocity of his men, served to 
strengthen the Turkish power step by step in the 
districts it won. Nicaea was not pillaged. Its citizens 
were allowed to live on in peace under Moslem laws, 
and Orchan himself by every act of charity and of 
devotion to his religion sought, and won, the respect 
of the people whom he had conquered. Then for 
twenty years he rested and prepared. Brusa was 
enriched with mosques and hospitals, tombs of soldiers 
and prophets, fountains, baths, colleges of students of the 
Koran. There rest to-day the first six Sultans, among 
** some five hundred tombs of famous men, pashas, scheiks, 
professors, orators, physicians, poets, musicians." 

The years of waiting ended when in J 346 the power 
of Orchan was so great, and was recognised to be so 
dangerous, that John Cantacuzene, the Christian Cassar, 
did not hesitate to purchase his friendship by the gift 
of his daughter Theodora, in a marriage performed 
with all the pomp of a State ceremonial, but without 
even the form of a Christian blessing. The friendshij) 
thus bought was never yielded. The Osmanlis crossed 
to Europe in freebooting bands, and ravaged up to the 
very walls of Constantinople ; and when the Genoese 
whom Cantacuzene had settled at Galata fought with 
him and destroyed his fleet, it was with the aid of 
Orchan that they fought against their benefactor. In 
1356 Orchan's son, Suleiman, inspired like his grand- 
father by a dream or a vision which he took as a super- 
natural summons, crossed to Europe with but thirty- 
nine companions, and took the fort of Tzympe near 
Gallipoli. In three days there were three thousand 
Turks settled in Europe. It was the beginning of 
an Empire which lasts to this day. The occupation 

The Medieval City 

of Gallipoli followed, and when Orchan died in 1359, 
the Turks had settled down to wait, for a hundred years, 
till the Queen city herself should fall into their hands. 

Before him his son Suleiman had passed away ; and 
his tomb at the northern entrance to the Hellespont 
seemed to mark the country for the possession of the 
Turks. " For a hundred years he was the only 
Ottoman prince who lay buried in European earth ; 
and his tomb continually incited the races of Asia to 
perform their pilgrimage to it with the sword of con- 
quest. Of all the hero-tombs," says Von Hammer, 
*' which have hitherto been mentioned in connection 
with Ottoman history, there is none more renowned, 
or more visited, than that of the second Vizier of the 
Empire, the fortunate crosser of the Hellespont, who 
laid the foundation of the Ottoman power in Europe." 

Already the military organisation was founded, and 
the system which had made in the brother of Orchan 
as Vizier the civil ruler of the people. Now the 
settlement in Europe was begun. Murad (or Amu- 
rath, as our forefathers called the name), the younger 
brother of Suleiman, succeeded his father. In less 
than thirty years he had transformed the face of 
Southern Europe, and made the Emperor of Rome 
but a dependent of his power. He landed and estab- 
lished his armies in Thrace. He defeated the Hun- 
garians and Serbians and captured Nisch ; he pressed 
southwards and Adrianople fell into his hands ; and 
then when the circle of Turkish territory was drawn 
closely round Constantinople, he turned northwards and 
became the conqueror of the northern lands ruled by 
princes Christian yet still barbarian, who had long 
before this conquered them from the Empire. In 
1389 Murad was slain, after a great victory, by 
Milosch Kobilovitsch, the hero of Serbian legend. 
Bayezid, his son, reigned in his stead ; and he began 

The Story of Co?istantifiople 

the fatal custom which still further consolidated the 
monarchy. On the very day of his accession he had 
his brother murdered, and so wise was the precedent 
considered that by the time of Mohanmied the Conqueror 
it became a law that every brother of the Sultan should 
be slain. He began, too, it is asserted, the hideous vices 
which have stained the Empire of his successors, and 
which degraded the courts of the Sultan with the guilt 
of the rulers and the shame of their captives. 

The battle of Kossova, the last fight of Murad, was 
followed before long by that of Nicopolis, in which 
the choicest chivalry of Europe went down before 
the fierce onslaught of the Turkish squadrons. The 
captives, all but twenty-four knights, who were spared, 
were butchered in cold blood in the presence of their 
comrades, before the tent of Bayezid. 

Then Bayezid led his hosts to the conquest of 
Greece; and in 1397 Athens fell before his arms. 
The Caesars bowed before him, suffered a mosque to 
be built within the walls of Constantinople, and actually 
joined their arms to his for the capture of the one 
Greek city which remained free in the midst of the 
European conquests of the Turks. When at last the 
insolent Sultan demanded that the crown of the 
Emperors should be yielded to him, and threatened to 
exterminate the inhabitants of the capital if he were 
not obeyed, it is said that the nobles replied : " We 
know our weakness, but we trust in the God of justice, 
who protects the weak and lowly, and puts down 
the mighty from on high.** It was an answer that 
befitted the ancient city. 

Before the attack was made that seemed certain to 
prove fatal to the last stronghold, the capital of the 
Christian Empire, Bayezid was called away to meet 
the onslaught of the greatest of conquerors, Timur 
tlie Tartar. The great battle of Angora shattered 

The Mediceval City 

the Turkish power, destroyed the Janissaries and left 
Bayezid himself a prisoner in the hands of Timur. 
Before a year was over, the proud Sultan died, and 
the power which he had made so great was utterly 
crushed beneath the feet of the Tartars. 

Brusa itself was left in ruins, and not only the son 
of Bayezid, who was safe in Adrianople, made sub- 
mission, but even the Emperor paid tribute to Timur. 
Then the conquering horde swept back again to the 
Far East, and the Turks set to work to rebuild 
again the power that had been shattered. 

Domestic warfare succeeded the destruction at the 
hands of foreign foes, and Mohammed I., die youngest 
son of Bayezid, established his authority over his 
brothers as ruler of the Osmanlis by the aid of the 
Emperor Manuel Palxologus. His brother Musa 
laid siege to Constantinople, and the troops of Moham- 
med actually joined with those of Manuel in the 
successful defence of the city. Mohammed was the 
ally, almost the subject, of the Emperor, and when he 
died he sought to commend his children to Manuel's care. 

Mohammed died in 1421 at Adrianople. His son 
Murad II. had to fight for his throne against a 
pretender whom the Emperor had set free, and whom 
he overcame only by the help of the Genoese galleys 
which carried him from Asia to Europe. In 1422 
he was ready to revenge himself on the Greeks. 
His army encamped before the walls of Constantinople, 
and his own tent was set up in the garden of the 
Church of the Blessed Virgin of the Fountain 
(Balukli). He brought his cannon to bear upon the 
walls that cross the vallev of the Lycus. but without 
success. The walls of Theodosius were still too 
strong, and the fierce attack on the gate of S. 
Romanus was a failure now, as it would not be 
thirty years later. 


The Story of Constantinople 

The city was stoutly defended. John PalaEologus, 
the Emperor's son, commanded a garrison inspired 
by the fullest religious enthusiasm : and when a vision 
of the Blessed Virgin, the Panhagia, was seen on 
the walls, both by assailants and defenders, the siege 
was given up ; and the Sultan did not attempt to 
renew it. Still, a tribute was paid by the Emperor, 
and it must have been clear to the Osmanlis that 
the capture was but for a short time deferred. But 
Murad had to undergo defeats at the hands of the 
Hungarians, which he amply avenged : and his two 
abdications showed that he was weary of power, if 
not incapable of wielding it. The end of his reign 
saw him repeatedly over-matched by the Albanian 
hero, Scanderbeg, whom he himself had trained among 
the Janissaries. In 145 1 he died; and then the 
greatest triumph of the Osmanlis was at hand. 

The early history of Mohammed II. has been thus 
summed up, in the clear-cut eloquence of Dean Church. 

" Three times did Mohammed the Conqueror ascend 
the Ottoman throne. Twice he had resigned it, a 
sullen and reluctant boy of fourteen, whom it was 
necessary to inveigle out of the way, lest he should 
resist his father to the face, when, to save the State, 
he appeared to resume his abdicated power. The 
third time, seven years older, he sprang on the great 
prize witli the eagerness and ferocity of a beast of 
prey. He never drew bridle from Magnesia, when 
he heard of his father's death, till on the second day 
he reached Gallipoli, on his way to Adrianople. To 
smother his infan: brother in the bath was his first 
act of power ; and then he turned, with all the force 
of his relentless and insatiate nature to where the 
inheritor of what remained of the greatness of the 
Caesars — leisurely arranging marriages and embassies — 
still detained from the Moslems the first city of the East ; 

The Medieval City 

— little knowing the savage eye that was fixed upon 
him, little suspecting the nearness of a doom which had 
so often threatened and had been so often averted." 

It did not need the half-defiant attitudes of Con- 
stantlne XII. to arouse the young Sultan : as soon as he 
had concluded a truce with his northern foes he began 
to make those elaborate preparations which should 
ensure success in the great conquest. His first act 
was to secure the isolation of the capital. Already he 
held the passage of the Dardanelles ; now he would 
secure that of the Bosphorus. In 1393 Bayezid had 
built on the Asiatic shore, some five miles above 
Constantinople, the fortress which was the first distinct 
menace to the imperial city. Anadoli Hissar, the 
" Asiatic Castle," still stands overhanging the water's 
edge, a splendid mediaeval building of four square 
towers with one great central keep. In 1452 a cor- 
responding tower was begun on the other side of the 
sea, at the point where the passage is narrowest. The 
first stone was laid by Mohammed himself on March 
26, 1452, and by the middle of August the castle 
was completed. The design of this Roumeli Hissar 
represented the name of the Prophet and the Sultan, 
the consonants standing out as towers. Protests were 
unheeded and the two envoys sent by the Emperor to 
remonstrate were butchered at once. A Venetian 
galley was sunk as it passed, to prove the range of the 
guns. Its crew were slain v/hen they swam ashore. 
A Hungarian engineer was employed to direct a cannon 
foundry, and a vast store of materials of war was 
accumulated for the siege. After another winter's 
preparation all was ready, and early in the spring of 
1 45 3 a vast Turkish host^ was ranged from the 

* There are many difTerent estimates given by the different 
writers. La Jonquiere, perhaps the latest, decides on 200,000 


The Story of Const ant'uioph 

Golden Horn to the Marmora. The sea was covered 
by three hundred vessels and it seemed as if succour 
was cut off on every side. 

On April 6, 1453, ^^ siege began. 

The last message of the Roman Emperor to the 
Turkish Sultan had been somewhat in these words : 
" As it is plain thou desirest war more than peace, as 
I cannot satisfy thee by my vows of sincerity or by 
my readiness to swear allegiance, so let it be according 
to thy will. I turn now and look above to God. If it 
be His will that the city should become thine, where is 
he who can oppose His will ? If He should inspire 
thee with a wish for peace, I shall indeed be happy. 
Nevertheless I release thee from all thy oaths and 
treaties to me, I close the gates of my city, I will 
defend my people to the last drop of my blood. And so, 
reign in happiness till the Righteous and Supreme Judge 
shall call us both before the seat of His judgment." 

It was in this spirit that Constantinople stood to 
meet the foe. Mohammed when he came in sight of 
the walls, spread his carpet on the ground and turning 
towards Mecca prayed for the success of his enterprise. 
Everywhere throughout the camp the Ulemas promised 
victory and the delights of Paradise. 

On April 7, the Turkish lines were drawn opposite 
the walls. The tent of the Sultan himself was placed 
opposite the gate of S. Romanus (Top Kapoussi). 
Thence to his right the Asiatic troops stretched down 
to the sea, to his left past the gate of Charisius (Edirne 
Kapoussi), the European levies extended northwards 
to the Golden Horn. Within four days sixty-nine 
cannon were set in position against the walls, and with 
them ancient engines, such as catapults and balistae, 
discharging stones. On the heights about Galata also 
a strong body of troops was placed. 

Within, measures had been taken to repair the walls, 


^l If; 


■ li-'H'i^ .■;.••■;. V 't t * 



The Mediaval City 

but it is said that the money had been embezzled by 
the two monks, skilled in engineering, to whom it had 
been given, and in some places the fortifications were 
not strong enough to support cannon. Constantine 
sought help from every side. On April 2C, four ships 
laden with grain forced their way through the Turkish 
fleet, but they added few if any to the defenders. The 
Venetian aid that had been promised did not arri^ e even 
at Euboea till two days after the Turks had captured 
the city. Of troops within, Phrantzes, who himself had 
charge of the search, states tliat there were hardly seven 
thousand in all, of whom two thousand were foreigners. 
Others give higher numbers, but tlicre is no reason to 
doubt the accuracy of the Emperor's most trusted 
friend. Strange it seems that outside, in the Sultan's 
army, some thirty thousand Christians were fighting for 
the infidels. Phrantzes says that when he heard that 
some of the Byzantine nobles had left the city, the 
Emperor only heaved a deep sigh. 

Of the arrangements for defence, the fullest accounts 
can be found in the writings of Phrantzes and Ducas, the 
letters of Archbishop Leonardo of Mitylene and of 
Cardinal Isidore, the report of the Florentine Tedardi, 
two poems, and a Slavonic MS. quoted by M. 

Here it is needless to tell how each wall was manned. 
It may suffice to say that during the few weeks that 
passed, while the Christians still kept their foes at bay, 
there was no rest for the besieged. Sometimes when 
the Emperor went on his rounds to inspect the defences 
he found the weary soldiers asleep at their posts. He 
seemed himself to be sleepless ; every hour that he did 
not devote to the defences he seemed to spend at prayer. 

* M. Mijatovich in his ** Constantine the last Emperor of 
the Greeks," gives a vivid account ot the siege, but he is far 
from accurate in dealing with the topography. 


The Story of Constantinople 

He visited every post himself; he even crossed the 
Golden Horn in a small boat to be sure of the security 
of the great chain which stretched from the tower of 
Galata to what is now called Seraglio Point. Every 
hour he had to contend with new difficulties, with 
monks declaring that defence was hopeless because of 
the union with the Latins, with Italian mercenaries 
clamouring for pay. He was compelled to take the 
furniture of the churches when the treasures of the 
palace were quite exhausted, but he promised if God 
should free the city to restore to Him fourfold. 

After nearly a week in which the heavy Turkish 
cannon thundered against the walls, the gunners learned 
at last from the Hungarian envoys to their camp how 
to direct their fire. At length, on April 1 8, at the 
hour of vespers, a great attack was made. The people 
rushed out from the churches, and the air was filled 
with the cries of the combatants, the ringing of the 
bells, the clash of arms. The attack was strongest 
against the weak walls by the Blachernas quarter, and by 
the gate of S. Romanus. After hours of hard fighting 
it was repulsed, and Te Deum was sung in all the 
churches for the victory. 

The victory of the i8th, followed by that of the 
20th, when the ships broke up the whole Turkish fleet 
and rode triumphantly into the Golden Horn, in- 
spirited the besieged. But on the 2ist the cannonade 
brought down one of the towers that defended the gate 
of S. Romanus. The Sultan was not on the spot, and 
the Turks were not ready to make assault, so the oppor- 
tunity passed. After these victories the Emperor hoped 
that it was possible to induce the Sultan to retire. He 
offered to surrender everything but the city, and there 
were some in the infidel camp who would have been 
ready to make terms, but Mohammed would offer only 
that the whole Peloponnesus should be Constantine's 

The Medieval City 

in undisturbed possession, if he would yield the city. 
The terms were rejected, and the Emperor prepared 
for the worst. 

But still the Turks were far from the end of their 
task. Long though the extent of land walls was that 
had to be manned, it was not difficult to protect it with 
a comparatively small force. A low counter-scarp 
enclosed a moat, over which rose the scarp surmounted by 
breastworks. Above this was the line of the outworks, 
with towers advanced here and there from their surface. 
Behind, and also protected by high towers, was the 
inner or great wall, with breast work and rampart. It 
was "the most perfect of Eastern fortresses,' ' ^ and 
might indeed seem impregnable. Every wall had its 
" military engines capable of playing on the siege- 
works of the beleaguering army." And as the walls 
" were loopholed at a stage below the battlements," 
the '* garrison could fire not merely from the parapets 
but from a well protected second line of openings." 
While therefore it was quite possible to defend the 
land walls, the besieged relied for ultimate safety on 
being able to leave without risk the walls of the Golden 
Horn and the sea practically undefended. The Turkish 
fleet would not venture to draw near to the Marmora 
walls. The Golden Horn was safe with Galata on 
the other side — though the Genoese held aloof, through 
treaty probably with Mohammed — and the chain 
across. The Sultan had already tried to force the chain 
but failed. So it seemed safe : — 

" Till Birnam wood shall come to Dunsinane." 

But the genius of the Sultan, or as one authority says, a 
Christian in his army, devised a scheme which at once 

1 Air Oman, Hutorij of the Art of War, Middle Ages, pp. 
526-7, speaks of three walls ; but the scarp was quite low, and 
there were only two walls behind it. 

The Story of Constantinople 

made him the master of the city. He determined to 
transport his fleet overland into the Golden Horn from 
the Bosphorus. An extraordinary feat it was, but it 
was splendidly performed. A narrow canal was dug. 
paved, and set with rollers. The point of starting was 
between Top Haneh and Beshiktash, out of the range 
of the fort at Galata. Thence between two and three 
miles up the valley of DoJma Bagtche the seventy or 
eighty ships were drawn by night up the hill of Pera 
to the point where now the gardens stand just below 
the Hotel Bristol, and thence down the hill to the bay 
of Kasslm Pasha v/here now stands the great Arsenal. i 
When the watchers on the towers of Galata and the 
Kentatarion by the Gate of Eugenius could see 
through the fogs of dawn on the morning of April 
2 2, the great fleet was no longer before them in the 
Bosphorus, but behind in the Golden Horn there 
rode the gallant vessels with their flags flying in the 
breeze. The north-east wall must be reinforced. 
How could it be done ? 

The Venetian ships in the harbour determined to 
attack the Turks before they could complete the great 
pontoon which they were preparing to bring up. For 
some days, however, nothing was done. The attacks 
on the land walls continued and were beaten back, 
often with heavy loss. But each day provisions were 
growing less and the defenders were growing weaker. 
On the morning of April 28th two Venetian galleys, 
three smaller ships, and two stored with fire, ad- 
vanced upon the Turks. They were received with 
the fire of four cannon. The great galley of Gabrielo 

1 There is much dispute as to the route taken by the ships 
and as to almost every point connected with the passage. I 
would only say that it seems to me that the view of Professor 
Van Millingen, which I have followed in the text, is the most 

The Mediceval City 

Trevisani sank, and one of the smaller ships. Only 
one of the Turkish ships caught fire. The Venetians 
who swam to shore when their ships sank were be- 
headed next day in sight of the defenders of the walls. 
A bitter revenge was taken. Over two hundred 
and fifty Turks had at some time or other been 
captured and lay in the prisons of Constantinople. 
They were now all beheaded on the walls in sight 
of their kindred. The horrible act made certain 
what would be the fate of the city if it fell. 

And internal dissensions made the fall seem im- 
minent. The Venetians accused the Genoese and the 
Genoese the Venetians for the failure of their attack on 
the Turkish fleet, till Constantine himself called their 
leaders before him and besought them to be at peace. 
"The war without," he said, **is enough; by the 
mercy of God seek not war among ourselves." " So," 
says Phrantzes, " with much speech at length he 
pacified them." 

Next day and on the first of May the Turkish 
cannon did some damage ; but in some parts the fire 
was utterly unable to penetrate or dislodge the splendid 
masonry, and one tower near the Lycus, it is said, 
was struck by over seventy balls without suffering in 
the slightest ; and the great gun built by the Hungarian 
mercenary Ourban was dismounted by the fire of the 
cannon directed by the gallant Genoese engineer 
Giustiniani, who, with four hundred of his country- 
men, manned the walls near the gate of S. Romanus. 
Mohammed himself was standing by the gun at the 
moment, and in rage called his troops at once to the 
assault. They crossed the counter-scarp and began to 
pull down the scarp where it had been repaired ; but 
again the defenders drove them back. 

It was said when the attack began the walls were 
but half manned, as some of the soldiers had actually 

K 145 

The Story of Constantinople 

left their posts to go home to dine. This laxity, as 
soon as it was discovered, was of course stopped ; but 
it shows how utterly the people, safe for centuries 
behind their defences, had forgotten the meaning of 

The Emperor on the 3rd of May sent out a 
ship which penetrated through the Turkish fleet, 
being disguised with Turkish colours, to beg aid. 
It was plain that if it were much delayed it 
would be too late. A council of war, indeed, 
advised the Emperor to escape while it was still 
possible. The Patriarch and the Senators urged him 
to go, assuring him that he could then easily gather an 
army to relieve the city. *' The emperor," we are 
told, " listened to all this quietly and patiently. At 
last, after having been for some time in deep thought, he 
began to speak : * I thank you all for the advice which 
you have given me. I know that my going out of the 
city might be of some benefit to me, inasmuch as all 
that you foresee might really happen. But it is im- 
possible for me to go away : how could I leave the 
churches of our Lord, and His servants the clergy, 
and the throne, and my people in such a plight? 
What would the world say of me ? I pray you, 
my friends, in future do not say to me anything else 
but, * Nay, sire, do not leave us.' Never, never, will 
I leave you. I am resolved to die here with you.' 
And saying this, the Emperor turned his head aside, 
because tears filled his eyes ; and with him wept the 
Patriarch and all who were there." ^ 

In the next two days a ship was sunk, and the other 
Christian vessels were compelled to withdraw outside 
the chain. A Genoese merchant ship was also sunk, 
and when the merchants of Galata protested, declaring 

^ Quoted by M. Chedomil Mijatovich, from a Slavonic 



The Mediaval City 

that they were entirely neutral, the Grand Vizier pro- 
mised to compensate them, whcu the city was taken. 

During the next week the breach by the gate 
of S. Romanus was daily widened, and on the 7th 
of May a desperate attack was made upon the walls. 
But again with splendid courage the Turks were beaten 
back, though some of the bravest of the defenders fell. 

On the 1 2th of May a breach was made in the 
walls north of the palace of the Porphyrogenitus, 
and thousands of Turks poured in. It was only 
the arrival of Constantine himself, summoned hastily 
from a council of war, that drove forth the hosts 
after hot fighting. The Emperor Would have pushed 
through and fought hand to hand in the ditch, we are 
told, if he had not been held back by his nobles. 

From this date eveiy effort was concentrated upon 
the gate of S. Romanus. There more cannon were 
directed ; and in return men were brought from the 
fleet, now felt to be useless, to man the walls. One 
of the towers fell ; and new engines were con- 
stantly being brought, with clever shelters for the 
archers. A great erection covered with bulls' hide 
was destroyed by a gallant attack from the walls, to 
the surprise of the Turks, who thought the feat im- 
possible. Mines and countermines every day were dis- 
covered ; every day the defenders were becoming weaker. 

On the 23rd an envoy from the Sultan was 
admitted to the city. Again, and for the last time, 
Constantino was offered a sovereignty in the Pel- 
oponnese, freedom for all who chose to depart, and 
security for the persons and possessions of all who 
should choose to remain after the surrender. Again 
he rejected the offer. No doubt he thought that 
it was impossible to trust it ; nor could the Roman 
Emperor endure to yield the city that had been 
but once captured in its age-long history. " We 


T^he Story of Constantinople 

are prepared to die." The last hope failed just after the 
last bold defiance was returned : the ship sent out re- 
turned, to say that nowhere had it found the vessels 
of the relieving force. 

The people began to see portents in the sky, when 
the great bonfires in the Turkish camp were reflected 
on the great dome of S. Sophia. The Emperor stood 
on the walls watching the enemy keeping festival, it 
seemed, with sounds of music, and shrill cries and the 
beating of drums. As he watched, says one who saw 
him, the tears coursed down his cheeks. He knew 
what must come, but he was ready to fight to the last. 
Again he was urged to fly, the Patriarch declaring 
that the city now must fall. Again, and for the last 
time he refused. " How many Emperors, great and 
glorious, before me have suffered and died for their 
country ? Shall I be the one to fly ? No, I will 
die with you ! " 

The ladies of the imperial household, the sister- 
in-law of the Emperor and her attendants, were 
sent away in a ship of Giustiniani's ; and everything 
was prepared for the worst. By gigantic efforts the 
walls were repaired, and so well was the work done 
that even the Sultan was for a moment half dismayed. 

Already there were many in the Turkish camp who 
thought the enterprise too hazardous to continue. It 
was known that a Venetian fleet was on the way, and 
that a league was being formed by the Pope. After 
long debate it was decided to make one last assault, 
and, if that failed, to raise the siege. On the night 
of the 28th, Mohammed visited all the posts, and 
promised to his soldiers all the pillage of the city, 
encouraging them by every hope for this world and 
the next. In the city priests bearing the sacred 
icons went through the streets. It was for the last 
time. For the last time Constantine called his officers 

The Medieval City 

together and spoke to them in brave words which 
burnt themselves into the memory of the faithful 

" Brothers and fellow-soldiers, be ready for the 
morn. If God gives us grace and valour, and the Holy 
Trinity help us, in Whom alone we trust, we will do 
such deeds that the foe shall fall back with shame before 
our arms/* Then, says the chronicler, the wretched 
Romans strengthened their hearts like lions, sought 
and gave pardon, and with tears embraced each other 
as though mindful no more of wife or children or 
earthly goods, but only of death, which, for the 
safety of their country, they were glad to undergo. 
Constantine for the last time went to the great 
church, and there, before all the bishops, asked the 
pardon of all whom he had wronged. Then he re- 
ceived his last communion. For the last time the 
Holy Sacrifice was offered in S. Sophia, and then 
the last of the Caesars and his nobles went forth to 

Before cock-crow he was again at his post ; and 
with the first streak of dawn the Turkish troops 
poured forth to the attack. Again and again they were 
forced back, and again forced forward by the troops 
behind them. The moat had been filled with earth 
and stones ; but a great palisade of stones covered with 
hides had been set up below the inner wall. The 
Janissaries at length rushed up to the breach, but even 
they were driven back. The critical moment came 
when a wound compelled Giustiniani to retire, and a 
few minutes after the Turks discovered a gate in the 
outer wall that had been newly opened, near to the 
gate of Charisius, and below the palace of the 
Porphyrogenitus, found it unprotected, and entering 
through it turned upon the defenders from within. 
Already the Genoese had left their posts when their 


The Story of Const a7iti7tople 

leader withdrew. The Janissaries again advanced ; 
they stormed the barricade, and at the moment when 
some discovered the Kerko-porta,^ others forced their 
way through the gate of Charisius, and others through 
the great breach near where the great Ccssar had stood. 
When the city was entered he was in the street calling 
his men around him. He rode forward, cutting his 
way through the foe, with some of the bravest of his 
nobles round him. At length he fell, near the gate of 
S. Romanus, by an unknown hand, and the conquer- 
ing Turks swept over his body. 

The age-long fight which the Imperial East had 
waged against barbarism was over. The city of the 
Caesars and the Church was in the hands of the infidel. 
The land where the scholarship of the ancient world 
and the law of the pioneers of equal justice had been 
preserved unbroken, was now trodden under foot of 
those whose life was formed on quite other models. 
Europe had stood by for centuries and watched the 
gallant battle waged by the Christians who manned the 
bulwarks of her civilisation. She had now to learn 
what was meant by the substitution of the Koran for 
the Bible, of Mohammed for Christ. 

Within a few hours of the capture of the gate of 
S. Romanus the whole city was overrun by the 
victorious troops. At first they slew all whom they 
saw, but when it was plain that all opposition was over 
they began to make captives, tying them together with 
ropes and dragging them on as they advanced further 
into the city. In the last hours of the siege thousands 
had gathered in the great church of S. Sophia. There 
many still thought that they must find safety. God, 
they fancied, could not allow the infidel to desecrate 
the fairest church in all the world. An angel, 
it had been prophesied, would descend at the last 
* See Van Milllngen, pp. 89 and 99, 

^Ihe Medieval City 

moment and strike the enemies of Christ to the 

The great doors were shut, and the hushed thousands 
stood in prayer. The cries of the victors came nearer 
and nearer, and at last the doors of the narthex were 
beaten in and the savage soldiery rushed in, slaying at 
first, then seizing captives, tearing down every Christian 
symbol, and shattering with their axes the magnificent 
iconostasis, before which, twelve hours before, Con- 
stantine and his gallant men had bent in reverent 

At noon Mohammed himself entered the city by the 
gate of S. Romanus. He rode straight down the wide 
street which leads to S. Sophia, followed by the 
greatest of his officers and the holy men of the Mussul- 
man faith. At the great door he dismounted, and 
taking earth from the ground he poured it on his head, 
as mindful of the end of all earthly conquests. Then 
he entered, and when he saw that wonderful sight 
which still strikes dumb with awe the greatest and the 
meanest of mankind, he stayed. Then, after some 
minutes* silence, he passed up to the altar. As he 
went he saw a soldier wantonly breaking up the beauti- 
ful pavement with his axe, and sternly forbade him, 
with a blow. As the priests stood before him he 
assured them of his protection, and he bade those 
Christians who still stood unfettered in the church to 
go to their homes in peace. 

Then the Sultan ordered one of the Ulemas to mount 
the pulpit and read forth to the conquerors from the 
Koran, and he himself mounted upon the marble altar 

* The icons were hewn clown, the ornaments everywhere 
torn ort, the altar stripped of its coverings, the lamps and 
sacred vessels stolen ; everytliing, says Ducas, of silver and 
gold or other precious substance was taken away, and the 
church was left naked and desolate. 

The Story of Constantinople 

and prayed. Two legends have grown up round these 
first moments of the Mussulman triumph in the great 
church. It is said that as the first infidel entered a 
priest was celebrating the Eucharist, and that he passed 
into the wall, which mysteriously opened for him and 
closed when he had passed, bearing the Body and 
Blood of the Lord. He will return, they say, when 
the Christians again have S. Sophia for their own. 
The other legend points to a pillar at the south-east 
where a mark like a blood-stained hand stands out on 
the white marble. There it declared, Mohammed riding 
his horse over heaps of dead, made an impress of blood 
and victory, and ordered the slaughter to be stayed. 

As the day went on it became known that some of 
the most notable of the defenders had escaped. Tedardi 
the Florentine, whose record of the siege is one of the 
most valuable we possess, when at last he saw that the 
fight was hopeless, fled to the harbour and with many 
others swam out to the Venetian ships some of which 
put out to sea and escaped. Giustiniani's wound had 
proved mortal. Cardinal Isidore, in disguise, was taken 
captive, but a Genoese of Galata bought his freedom. 
Many escaped to Galata. Some paid large ransoms : 
some were slaughtered, whether Latins or Greeks, in 
spite of the money they gave. Most of the Greeks 
were made captive. The duke Notaras and his family 
were at first spared, but when Mohammed demanded 
that the duke's son, a boy of fourteen, should be sent 
to him in the palace, he refused, and he and all his sons 
were put to death. 

The usual fate of the Greek nobles however was that 
the fathers were slain, the boys taken to the barracks 
of the Janissaries, and the women and girls to the harems 
of the sultan and his chief favourites. Some forty 
thousand Greeks perished during the siege, fifty thousand 
it is supposed became captives, ten thousand, it is possible, 

The Mediaeval City 

some.few rich, most the very poor, retained their free- 
dom if not their homes.^ 

The body of Constantine, recognised by the purple 
buskins, was found in a heap of dead. His head was 
cut off and borne to the Sultan. It was exposed on a 
column in front of the palace. The body was buried 
with respect, and over its grave, not far from where the 
mosque of Suleiman now stands, a lamp has always been 
kept burning, but the Ottoman government has sternly 
repressed the attempt of the faithful Greeks to turn it 
into a place of pilgrimage and prayer. 

So ended the Roman empire of the East. Its fall 
was an undying disgrace to Christendom, which stood 
by and would not help. But it fell chiefly through its 
own weakness. Military power and religion had been 
the strength of the Empire ; corruption had eaten away 
the first, and the luxury and vice of the imperial court 
had shown that the Christian faith had failed to hold 
its own. In the hour of their despair the Emperors 
turned again to Christ, but it was too late to save the 
Empire which their defiance of His laws had brought 
to desolation. The Church of Constantinople must 
pass through the fires of persecution, and recover in its 
isolation, if it might be, the strength of the first days. 

When Mohammed passed from the great church, he 
rode along the Hippodrome, and when he came to the 
serpent column from Delphi he struck off one of the 
three heads. He had done, he might have said, with 
the old world. It was the day of the new peoples : a 
day which began with the destruction of the old. As 
he walked through the deserted halls of the great palace 
he repeated the words of Firdusi : 

Now the spider draws the curtain in the Caesar's palace hall, 
And the owl is made the sentinel on Afrasiab's tower of 

* These are Finlay's figures. 



Constantifiople under the Turks 

CONSTANTINOPLE soon became Stambul in 
^ the mouth of the Turks, a corruption it may be 
of the s/g r^v Tto'ki^t which 
they had often heard in 
the mouth of the Greeks. 
The crescent of Byzan- 
tium became the symbol 
of the Ottoman power. 
A new city began to be 
raised on the ruins of 
the old. 

Some privileges were 
left to the Christians. 
Galata and Pera were 
from the first confirmed 
in their independence 
and freedom of trade ; 
yet step by step the 
Turkish sway was es- 
tablished over them, and 
though the foreign liber- 
ties still exist, and are 
reinforced by the privi- 
leges, from time to time 
increased, of the am- 
bassadors and their households and the colonies 
they protect, the Sultan's rule is complete on botli 

»S4 . 

^. %^ ''i^^ 


Constantinople under the Turks 

sides of the Golden Horn. After three days of 
plunder, Mohammed set himself to make order. 
He declared that he would protect the Greek 
Church. A new patriarch, George Schoiarios or 
Gennadios, was installed : his ecclesiastical jurisdiction 
was recognized. He was allowed to hallow new 
churches, and one little humble oratory remained 
undefiled by the infidel. On the hill above the 
Phanar, hidden away in a side street, by a high 
wall, stands the little white-washed sanctuary round 
which on the fatal day the fight had surged. The 
Turks still call it Kan Klisse, the church of blood. 
The Greeks know it as S. Mary Mouchliotissa (the 
Mongolian), in memory, not only of the B.V.M., 
hut of Mary the daughter of Manuel Palaeologus, 
who had married the Khan of the Mongols, and 
after his death returned to Constantinople and built 
or restored the little church. Mohammed gave it 
to the architect Christodoulos, and by special firman, 
preser\'ed it to the Christians. 

The patriarchal throne was moved first to the Church 
of the Apostles, soon destroyed to make the mosque 
of the conqueror ; thence to the Pammakaristos 
(Fetiyeh Djanii) ; thence to the Church of the Wal- 
lachian palace in the Phanar, now the monastery of 
the Jerusalem patriarchate. At last, in 1601, it was 
moved to the ancient Petrion, where it remains. The 
palace of the patriarch is close by : the walls still 
show remains of the ancient fortifications, and of 
the stones of the monastery where the Empress 
Theodora lived so long in retirement. The church 
has a beautiful iconostasis of dark olive wood, and 
a patriarchal throne and pulpit, all probably of the 
seventeenth century, but which the faithful delight to 
ascribe to much earlier days. The throne is called 
the throne of S. John Chrysostom, the pulpit his 


The Story of Constantinople 

pulpit ; but their only claim to the title is that they 
belong to his successors, in an unbroken line. In 
this sheltered spot, and in the district of Phanar, 
stretching between the inner bridge over the Golden 
Horn and the ultra-Moslem suburb of Eyub, remain 
the last links of Constantinople with the ancient 
Christian city. Round the patriarchal church, with 
the Christian schools and colleges, in the houses that 
are still half fortresses, cluster ancient memories that 
survive to-day. Gautier wrote fancifully, " Hither 
ancient Byzantium has fled. Here in obscurity 
dwell the descendants of the Comneni, the Dukai, 
the Palaiologoi, princes with no lands, but whose 
ancestors wore the purple and in whose veins flows 
imperial blood.'* Still in these dark houses, dusty 
and begrimed without, there survives some of the 
ancient Greek society, that has passed through so 
many changes, and hopes at least to witness one 

The conquest of Constantinople had less effect than 
might have been expected upon the position of the 
Greek Church. Gennadios whom Mohammed made 
Patriarch, had been the bitter opponent of the reunion 
of the churches, and he had even declared that the 
destruction of the Empire would be the certain result 
of the concessions to the Latins. Mohammed desired 
that the Church should retain its power. If he pro- 
tected it there might grow up some general feeling of 
acceptance of the Moslem rule. Thus synods were 
still allowed to meet, the patriarch was allowed to 
hold courts Christian, and to enforce his sentences 
with excommunication. But none the less the Church 
had no means of resisting the absolute power of the 
Sultan. At any moment patriarch, bishop or priest 
could be deposed, banished, executed, by his 
sole will. The Church has never ceased to 


Constantinople under the Turks 

live in a position of danger, at the mercy of an alien 
lord, and amid an infidel people ; and at any moment 
she is liable to an active persecution, and her members 
to martyrdom. 

The earlier patriarchs after the conquest seem to 
have been disturbed in their office by scandals, intrigues, 
difficulties of every kind. Before long the Sultan 
demanded payment on each new election, and it is 
represented that it was only by bribes that the election 
proceeded at all. Simony appears to have been rife. 
It was but slowly and under persecution that the 
Church was purged from these sins and became again 
fully worthy of the reverence of the whole Greek 
people. The encouragement of learning in the present 
century, the high character of the patriarchs, the 
times of danger through which they have passed, have 
left the Church the true centre of the national life 
which still remains. Nor has the widespread influence 
of the patriarchate failed to preserve some relics of the 
power of the ancient Empire. During the seventeenth 
century, while the Morea was in the hands of the 
Venetians, the Patriarch of Constantinople still nomin- 
ated the bishops, revenues still reached him from the 
monasteries ; and his excommunications were still 
valid in the lands which did not own the Sultan as 
lord. The Patriarch still claims ecclesiastical jurisdic- 
tion over the Balkan lands, though the Porte has 
appointed a Bulgarian exarch, in accord with the 
wishes of the government, to act as head of the 
Orthodox in that principality, and Roumania has also 
freed herself ; Serbia still struggles to be free : but 
it can hardly be doubted that should the lands ever be 
reunited, they would all gladly return to the obedience 
of the Patriarchate. 

But this by anticipation : Mohammed set himself to 
found a new city. Land was freely granted to rich 


The Story of Const antiriople 

families from other cities : it is said that five thousand 
families, Greeks and Turks, were soon induced to 
settle in what had been the richest city in the world. 
Four thousand Servians were planted outside the walls 
to recolonize the villages that the wir had destroyed. 
As the conquest spread Greeks and Albanians were 
forcibly deported to the capital. The Christians of 
Constantinople alone were freed from the tribute of 
their children. Before he died Mohammed saw the 
city again populous and in prosperity. He founded a 
new city on the ruins of the old : the new population, 
half Christians, but predominantly Turks, gave new 
life ; and the new life was made to centre round the 
new buildings which Christian art inspired the Moslems 
to build. Gradually the city became not only Oriental, 
but Mohammedan. It is thus we see it to-day. Of the 
buildings let us speak later. Now let us see the 
work that was done by Mohammed the Conqueror 
and his successors. 

The Turkish power depended upon the charac- 
teristic institution of the Janissaries. From the time 
of Orchan it was the law of the Turks to require 
from all the Christian subjects of their power a 
tribute of their children. These were at once made 
Mussulmans, brought up very strictly in their faith, 
skilfully taught, and trained to hardness. As time 
showed their capacity, they were divided into two 
classes ; those who had no special physical strength 
were set to work in the offices of State ; the 
others underwent the strict discipline which produced 
the finest military corps in Europe, the Janissaries. 
Unmarried, without family ties, connected neither 
among themselves nor with the people, these soldiers, 
it was said by their founder, Khalil-Djendcreli, would 
belong solely to their sovereign, from whom they 
would have their sole reward. It was an original 


Constantinople under the Turks 

and daring thought, to make each conquest the basis 
of future victories. " Let the Christians support the 
war ; let themselves furnish the soldiers by whose 
means we shall iiiiht." 

The first batch of Christian captives thus set apart 
in 1328 were brought before a renowned dervish, 
Hadji Bektash. Thus he blessed them. *' Let them 
be called Yeni-Tscheri (new soldiers) : they shall be 
conquerors in every fight ; let their countenance be 
ever white and shining, their arm strong, their sword 
sharp, their arrow swift." 

No troops ever more powerfully affected the 
imagination of friends and foes. Among the Turks 
they were always the leaders, the forlorn hope. 
Among Christians the terror of their name spread 
over Europe. In every war they gained new laurels, 
and from the moment when they stormed the walls 
of Constantinople they began to be, slowly but cer- 
tainly, the sole strength of the Ottoman power. At 
first the absolute servants of the Sultan, before two 
centuries were over they became his masters. Their 
numbers increased rapidly. Within a few years their 
numbers reached twelve thousand, and in the seven- 
teenth century they were more than three times as 
numerous. The description of the English traveller 
Sandys shows perhaps better than any other record 
what impression they made upon Christians at the 
height of their powei. 

" The Janissaries," he says,i " are those that bear 
great sway in Constantinople : in so much that the 
Sultans themselves have been sometimes subject to 
their insolencies. They are divided into severall 
companies under several! Captaines ; but all com- 
manded by their Aga : a place of high trust, and 
the third in repute through the Empire : howbeit, 
1 Sandys' Travels^ pp. 48, 49, ed. 1627. 

The Story of Constant'mople 

their too much love is to him an assured destruc- 
tion. These are the flower of the Turkish infan- 
tery, by whom such wonderfull victories have been 
atchieved. They call the Emperour father (for none 
other is there for them to depend on), to whose 
valour and faith in the time of warre he committeth 
his person : they having their stations about the royal 
pavillion. They serve with harquebushes, armed be- 
sides with cymiters and hatchets. They weare on 
their heads a bonnet of white felt, with a flap hanging 
downe behind to their shoulders ; adorned about the 
browes with a wreathe of metall, gilt, and set with 
stones of small value ; having a kind of sheathe or 
rocket of the same erected before, wherein such are 
suffered to sticke plumes of feathers as have behaved 
themselves extraordinarie bravely. They tucke up the 
skirts of their coates when they fight, or march : and 
carry certaine dayes provision of victuals about with 
them. Nor is it a cumber : it being no more than a 
small portion of rice, and a little sugar and hony. 
When the Emperor is not in the field, the most of 
them reside with him in the Citie : ever at hand upon 
any occasion to secure his person, and are as were the 
Pretorian cohorts with the Romanes. They are in 
number about forty thousand : whereof the greater 
part (I meane of those that attend on the Court) 
have their being in three large Serraglios ; where the 
juniors do reverence their seniors, and all obey their 
severall commanders (as they their Aga) with much 
silence and humility. Many of them that are married 
(a breach of their first institution) have their private 
dwellings : and those that are busied in forreine em- 
ployments, are for the most part placed in such garri- 
son townes as do greatly concerne the safetie of the 
Empire. Some are appointed to attend on Embas- 
sadors ; others to guard such particular Christians as will 
1 60 

Constantinople under the Tia'ks 

be at the charge, both about the City, and in their travels, 
from incivilities and violences, to whom they are in 
themselves most faithful! : wary and crueil, in pre- 
venting and revenging their dangers and injuries; and 
so patient in bearing abuses, that one of them of late 
being strucken by an Englishman (whose humorous 
swaggering would permit him never to review his 
countrey) as they travelled along through Morea, did 
not onely not revenge it, nor abandon him to the pillage 
and outrages of others, in so unknowne and savage a 
country ; but conducted him unto Zant in safety, say- 
ing, God forbid that the villany of another should 
make him betray the charge that was committed to 
his trust. They are al of one trade or other. The 
pay that they have from the Grand Signior is but 
five aspers a day : yet their eldest sons as soone as 
borne are inrolled, and received into pension ; but his 
bounty extendeth no further unto his progeny (the rest 
reputed as natural Turks), nor is a Janizary capable of 
other preferments than the command of ten, of twenty, 
or of an hundred. They have yeerly given them two 
gowns apiece, the one of violet cloth, and the other of 
stanmell, which they weare in the City : carrying in 
their hands a great tough rcede, some seven feet long, 
and tipped with silver ; the weight whereof is not 
seldome felt by such as displease them. Who are 
indeed so awefuU, that Justice dare not proceed 
publikely against them (they being only to be judged 
by their Aga), but being privately attached, are as 
privately throwne into the sea in the night time. But 
then are they most tumultuous (whereto they do give 
the name of affection) upon the dangerous sicknesses of 
their Emperours ; and upon their deaths commit many 
outrages. Which is the cause that the great Bassas as 
well as they can, do conceale it from them, untill all 
things be provided for the presentment of the next for 

L i6i 

7 he Story of Constantinople 

them to salute. Whereupon (besides the present 
larges) they have an Asper a day increase of pension : 
so that the longer they live, and the more Emperours 
they outlive, the greater is their allowance. But it is 
to be considered, that all these beforenamed, are not 
onely of that tribute of children. For not a few of 
them are captives taken in their child-hood ; with 
divers Renegados, that have most wickedly quitted 
their religion and countrey, to fight against both : who 
are to the Christians the most terrible adversaries. 
And withall they have of late infringed their ancient 
customes, by the admitting of those into these orders, 
that are neither the sons nor grandsons of Christians; 
a naturall Turke borne in Constantinople, before never 
knowne, being now a Barsa of the Port." 

To the English traveller's record may be added 
information of the Venetian ambassador's relaziorii, 
which speak of the severe military training which the 
lads underwent, the strict asceticism in food, drill, 
garb, and tell that at night they all lay in a long room, 
lighted, and patrolled all night by a watchman, who 
walked up and down that they might learn thus to 
sleep in the midst of alarms. 

Children of every nation, Poles, Bohemians, 
Russians, Italians, Germans, as well as tribute slaves 
from Greece and the Balkan lands, they knew no 
home but that narrow court in the Seraglio, no master 
but the Sultan, no hope but the hope of plunder and 
the paradise of Islam. So great was the power of the 
training, the comradeship, the fanaticism, that but one 
of all the Christians forcibly made Moslem and 
brought up among the Janissaries is known to have 
taken the opportunity to escape and return to Chris- 
tendom. The single hero was Scanderbeg, who alone 
arrested the triumphant progress of Mohammed II. 

One of the most curious memorials of the old 


Constantinople under the Turks 

Turkish State is that which is preserved to-day in the 
museum at the end of the At-meidan. There a 
hundred and thirty-six figures, huge painted dolls, 
represent the terrible troops in their habits as they 
lived. On the stairs are figures in chain armour, in 
the hall above the representations of the different ranks, 
and the officers named after the kitchen duties they 
were supposed to perform. It was one great family, 
in idea, with the Sultan as father. He gave the food, 
and their great kettles in which it was cooked were 
also their drums, with spoons for drumsticks. A 
strange grotesque sight are these bright figures in 
their long robes, with here and there, for contrast, an 
example of the new uniform introduced by Mohammed 
II. The museum is almost deserted ; but there is no 
more characteristic memorial of the great days of the 
Turks. Let the visitor not imagine that he may 
sketch or take notes or look at the book of drawings 
which he may find in the room. He will hear the 
familiar Turkish word Tasak / and the book will be 
snatched from his hands. 

But this by the way. When Mohammed II. took 
Constantinople and settled the Janissaries in the outer 
court of the Seraglio, once the Acropolis, they were 
only beginning to be the centre of power. Yet even 
then they were the most characteristic institution of 
the Osmanlis. While Constantinople was assuming 
the aspect which it was to bear for centuries, of an 
entirely eastern town, with minarets everywhere, khans, 
shrouded women, the strange solemn social life of the 
East, Mohammed the Conqueror was adding every- 
where to his empire. Servia and Bosnia were annexed, 
Albania and Cyprus subdued ; the whole of Asia 
Minor was under his rule. He died on May 2, 1481, 
and left the name of the greatest of the Turkish rulers. 
His laws, his organisation of the judicial and religious 


The Story of Constantinople 

class of the Ulemas, the teachers of the people, were 
more permanent than his victories. But when he died 
the power that he had founded rested securely on the 
great maxim wliich his successors were, from his 
practice, to develop till it became a fixed theory of 
government — that the children of Christians were alone 
those who should enjoy the highest dignities of the 

The visitor to Constantinople remembers Mohammed 
most of all by the magnificent mosque which towers 
over the city and is seen in such striking effects of light 
from the heights of Pera. With the name of his 
successor is associated a mosque as beautiful and as 
famous. Bayezid succeeded his father in spite of a 
plot of the Grand Vizier to give the throne to his 
younger brother Djem, whose romantic adventures fill 
80 large a space in the French and papal diplomacy of 
the end of the fifteenth century. His reign (1481- 
1 5 1 2 ) was marked like his father's by great victories, 
and the once famous Turkish fleet owes its origin to 
liim. In him first appears the contemplative lethargic 
character which was to become marked in some of the 
later Sultans. Eastern writers called him a philosopher ; 
and when he had ceased even to pretend to be a 
warrior his troops insisted on his giving up the throne 
to his son Selim. 

Three weeks after his resignation he died. Rarely 
has he who has once been Sultan lived long in retire- 
ment. Selim, with ferocious zest, carried out, though 
he did not inaugurate, another custom of the Ottoman 
monarchy. He swept away all possible claimants to 
his throne, strangling his two brothers and five of 
his nephews. He followed the victorious course of 
his predecessors ; he fought in Persia, he seized Egypt 
and occupied Jerusalem, and Mecca, the centre of 
Mohammedan reverence, passed under his power. 

Constantinople under the Turks 

Savage and relentless as he was — it became a proyerb 
of hatred, *' Would that thou wast the Vizier of 
Sultan Selim " — he was yet, like so many of his race, 
a poet, and the friend and patron of learned men. He 
died near Adrianople on the 22nd of September 1 520, 
and left the throne to his son Suleiman, one of the 
greatest of the Sultans. 

Suleiman began with mercy. Justice and bene- 
volence, he declared that he took for the principles of 
his government. He freed prisoners, he declared that 
he would rule in accordance with the precepts of the 
Koran. From the first his reign was a succession of 
victories. In 1521 Belgrade surrendered; in 1522 
he conquered the isle of Rhodes, so long the gallantly 
defended outpost of Christendom in the Mediterranean. 
For a time after these great successes he turned to 
pleasure, but threatened insubordination among the 
Janissaries awoke the barbarity which was never far 
below the surface in the great Turkish Sovereigns, and 
Mustafa the aga with several of the officers paid for 
their independence with their lives. 

It was necessary, Suleiman saw, to continue war, to 
find employment for his turbulent force ; and in 1526 
he marched against Hungary with a force of a hundred 
thousand men. At Mohacz the Christian army was 
utterly defeated after a gallant fight, in which Suleiman 
himself was for a time in great danger, and in which 
at the end the flower of Hungarian chivalry with their 
King at their head perished by the sword or in the 
river through which they tried to escape. Buda Pesth 
fell into the hands of the conqueror. All the 
prisoners taken at Mohacz were massacred, and 
over a hundred thousand slaves were led back to 
Turkey. The spoils were enormous. The library 
of the old Seraglio and the treasury still hold some 
of the choicest manuscripts of the famous library of 


The Story of Constantinople 

Mathias Corvinus. Suleiman returned in triumph to 

To the passage of armies on their way to victory 
the people of the great city had now become familiar 
as in the greatest days of the Empire. Thirteen 
times, it is said, did Suleiman pass through the gates 
on warlike expeditions and thirteen times did he return 
a conqueror. He led his forces to the walls of 
Vienna, and though he was at length compelled to 
withdraw, he inflicted a blow on the Empire which it 
took long to recover, and he showed to Europe that a 
new and terrible power had come to take part in the affairs 
of the West. In Persia, if he was not entirely suc- 
cessful, yet he added new territories to the Empire. 
A pirate fleet under his sanction swept the seas. He 
defeated the combined fleets of Spain, Italy, and 
Venice. During a reign of forty-six years he kept 
Europe and Asia at war. But his greatest triumphs 
were not those of the battlefield. He made the great 
Sovereigns of Christendom count him as their equal. 
Every prince of the time was anxious to enter into 
negotiation with him. Their envoys came to Con- 
stantinople, and were treated as suppliants. To every 
indignity they submitted for the sake of winning the 
alliance of " the grand Turk,^' the Sultan whom 
Europe came to call " the magnificent." 

France was the first to make alliance with the 
infidel ; and in spite of the papal curse the Moham- 
medan power was introduced as a prominent actor in 
the politics of Europe by the most Christian King, 
Francis I. The Sultan of sultans. King of kings, 
giver of crowns to the kings of the world, the shadow 
of God upon the earth, Suleiman, the ever victorious, 
assured the prostrate King of France that he need not 
fear, for that every hour his horse was saddled, his 
sword girt on, and he was ready to defend and to 
1 66 

Constantinople under the Turks 

overthrow. A solemn treaty in February 1535 united 
France and Turkey in bonds of perpetual amity. It 
was renewed in 1553; and the aUiance remained an 
important fact in the politics of Europe for more than 
two hundred years. 

Renowned for his victories in diplomacy and war, 
Suleiman's fame was even greater as a patron of art 
and letters. It was through him first that the 
Christendom of the sixteenth century heard of the 
glories of Eastern literature, and that Europe began 
to imitate Asia. It was the great age of Turkish 
poets. The court of Suleiman was thronged by 
poets who vied with each other in celebrating the 
glories of their master. Every bazaar of the East 
rang with his praises : in far distant lands the in- 
genious verse-makers made his victories, his pleasures, 
his magnificence, the theme of their elaborate com- 
positions. Trade poured into Stambul. All the 
riches of the East, the wonderful carpets and em- 
broideries, the exquisite metal-work, the dignified 
designs of the pen and the brush, fixed their natural 
home in the court of the magnificent Suleiman. 
Under him the architecture of the Moslems reached 
its culmination : the splendid mosque named after him, 
with the tiirbehs around it, represent the great work of 
his age, worthy of commemoration as lengthy as that 
which Procopius gave to the edifices of his sovereign. 
Great as conqueror, as builder, and as restorer of 
ancient work, Suleiman may well be called, in yet 
another aspect, the Turkish Justinian. He was great 
also as a legislator, and his work completed that of 
Mohammed II. He laid down the limits of the 
privileges of the Ulemas, the powers of the Sheikh- 
ul-Islam and the Grand Vizier. Financial organisa- 
tion, so essential to the security of his conquests, was 
made under his rule into an elaborate system. The 


The Story of Constantinople 

penal code was revised, simplified, and, on the whole, 
rendered less severe. Every change, every reform, 
showed the guiding genius of the great Sultan ; arbitrary 
as the worst of his race, unrestrained always in the 
exercise of his authority, he yet showed an Eastern 
despotism at its best, animated by a zeal for justice, 
for regularity, for the welfare of the people. 

Suleiman, whose name exercised so great a fascina- 
tion over the imagination of the West, was the hero, 
Christian romancers thought, of a grand passion. The 
name of Roxelana became famous in the drama and 
poetry of Europe. Her story was indeed a striking 
one. Khurrem, " the joyous one," was a Russian 
captive, who, in the later years of the mighty Sultan, 
obtained an absolute control over him. From a slave, 
placed among hundreds of other captives in the harem, 
she rose to be herself Sultan,^ the wife of the Com- 
mander of the Faithful. 

It was contrary to all precedent that Suleiman de- 
posed the mother of his eldest son from her rank and 
made Roxelana Sultan. The French Ambassador 
accounts for the elevation in this way. " Roxelana 
wished to found a mosque for the weal of her soul, 
but the mufti told her that the pious works of a slave 
turned only to the advantage of her lord : upon this 
special ground Suleiman declared her free. This was 
immediately followed by the second step. The free 
woman would no longer comply with those desires of 
Suleiman which the bondswoman had obeyed, for the 
fetwa of the mufti declared that this could not be 
without sin. Passion on the one side and obstinacy 
on the other at last brought it about that Suleiman 
made her his wife. A treaty of marriage was rati- 

1 The form " Sultana " is only a Western one. The Turks 
use the word Sultan for both sexes, placing it after the 
name in the case of a female. 

1 68 

Constantinople under the Turks 

fied, and Roxelana was secured an income of 5000 
sultanins." ^ 

The extraordinary influence which this remarkable 
woman exercised over the great Sultan was new, it 
seemed, to the Empire ; it was not only new, but 
destructive to the military system of the Turks that 
any special attachment should be formed which should 
attract the Sultan to the home rather than the camp. 
The Sultans, with all their gross pleasures, had been 
ever warriors ready to desert everything for their mili- 
tary duties, and had ruled their Empire as well as 
their army solely by their own will. Suleiman seemed 
to open the way to influences which would be de- 
structive to the Turkish power ; and one of the greatest 
of the Viziers a century later said that all his suc- 
cessors were fools or tyrants. 

Be this so or not, Suleiman and Roxelana were 
unique in Turkish history. Their devotion to each 
other appeared to be complete : and the passionate 
love which grew rather than diminished with years, 
marked the history of the court with the stains of 
sacrifice and crime. Mustafa, the Sultan's eldest 
son, stood in the way of the children of Khurrem. 
The Vizier Rustem Pacha was her devoted slave, 
owing to her his elevation to the dignity of the 
Sultan's vicegerent. He brought to Suleiman reports 
that Mustafa was allying with the Shah of Persia to 
dethrone him, and was winning the Janissaries to his 
side, a charge to which his valour and ability, and his 
great popularity with the soldiers, might seem to give 
some colour. Suleiman himself, on his Syrian cam- 
paign, ordered his son to appear before him. On 
September 21, 1553 — the day was long remembered 
— the gallant Mustafa was brought with great pomp 

1 Quoted by Ranke, Ottoman and Span'uh monarchies [Eng. 
trans.], p. 12. 


The Story of Constantinople 

and ceremony to the tent of the Sultan. When he 
entered he found only the seven mutes armed with 
the fatal bowstring. He was seized, and before he 
could utter more than one cry, he was murdered. 
The thick tapestry at the back of the tent was drawn 
aside and Suleiman entered to gaze upon the body 
of his son. 

Even then the vengeance was not complete. The 
child of the murdered Mustafa was stabbed at Brusa in 
his mother's arms. The horror that was felt at these 
crimes became evident when the Janissaries demanded 
the punishment of Rustem, and when Djihanghir, 
the son of Suleiman and Roxelana, died of grief 
for the brother to whom he was devoted. The new 
grand Vizier was sacrificed also : and not long after- 
wards the beautiful Roxelana, Khurrem, passed away. 
The great Sultan gave her the most beautiful of tombs. 
The art of the Mussulmans was centered in that 
last home which the love of Suleiman could bestow. 

" Without, the scented roses twine, 
The Suleymanieh tow'rs o'erhead, 
The flagstones, flecked with shade and shine, 
Re-echo to the pilgrim's tread, 
And soft grey doves their wings outspread 
In the blue vault above the shrine." 

If Roxelana was the evil genius of Suleiman, his 
reign was not more happy after her death. Her two 
elder sons, Selim and Bayezid broke into open war. 
Bayezid attacked Selim, and, betrayed, it would seem 
by the basest of intrigues, he was defeated, and 
fled to Persia. Every letter that he wrote to his 
father was suppressed, and the Persians sold him to 
his brother by whom he and his four sons were put 
to death. A few months later his fifth son, a child 
of three, was strangled at Brusa by the Sultan's 

Constantinople under the Turks 

To the last, Suleiman led his troops to the field. 
He died on August 3c, 1566, while he was con- 
ducting the siege of Szigeth, a small fortress in 
Hungary. The grand Vizier concealed his death 
from the army and sent messengers at once to Selim, 
who hastened to Constantinople. 

Suleiman left behind him a name more famous 
than any of his predecessors save Mohammed the 
Conqueror. His lofty and enterprising genius, his 
heroic courage, his strict observance of the laws of 
Islam tempered^ at times by a wise tolerance, the 
order and economy which were combined with his 
magnificence and grandeur, his love of knowledge 
and the protection he extended to learned men, all 
mark him out, says the historian of the Ottomans, 
among the noblest of his race. 

Selim n. began ill by not paying the largesse 
which the Janissaries expected from a new sovereign. 
They mutinied, and he was obliged to yield. His 
father had altered the ancient rule which required 
the Janissaries only to go to the war when the Sultan 
himself took the field. The Janissaries now compelled 
him to allow the enrolment of their children in their 
ranks. Selim was no warrior, and he was glad to 
send his troops without him. He preferred, the 
ambassadors say, " the society of eunuchs and of 
women, and the habits of the serai to the camp : " 
he " wore away his days in sensual enjoyments, in 
drunkenness and indolence." " Whoever beheld him 
and saw his face inflamed with Cyprus wine, and his 
short figure rendered corpulent by slothful indulgence, 
expected in him neither the warrior nor the leader of 
warriors. In fact, nature and habit unfitted him to be 
the supreme head, that is the life and soul, of that 
warlike State." 1 

^Ranke, quoting Barbaro, the Venetian ambassador. 


The Story of Constantinople 

He was the first of the Turkish Sovereigns who 
was unworthy of the throne that had been won by 
hard and incessant work. " I think not of the future," 
he himself said, " I Hve only to enjoy the pleasure of 
each day as it passes." A drunkard ruling over the 
Mussulmans, sworn to total abstinence from all in- 
toxicating drinks, was a grotesque and disgusting 
anomaly. The people mocked while they followed 
the example. " Where shall we get our wine to-day," 
they said, "from the Mufti (priest) or from the 
Kadi (judge) ? " 

But whatever might be the character of the Sultan, 
it had become a fixed policy with the Turks that the 
Empire could only be carried on by aggressive war. 
Under Selim, though without his personal intervention, 
war was made with Russia, but without success : the 
conquests of Suleiman in Arabia were made complete, 
and Yemen fell into the hands of the Turks. Then 
it was determined to complete the conquest of the 
Mediterranean : war was declared against Venice, and 
Cyprus was captured in August 1571. But this 
capture, which Selim described to Barbaro as " cutting 
off one of the arms of the Republic" was avenged by 
the famous naval league against the Turks. On 
October 7, 1571, Don John of Austria utterly 
destroyed the Turkish fleet at Lepanto, capturing 
130 galleys, 30,000 prisoners, and 15,000 Christian 
slaves. It was the first sign of the long decline of 
the Ottoman power. Europe awoke to the belief that 
the Turks were not invincible. 

The news was received with consternation in Con- 
stantinople. An outbreak of Mohammedan fanaticism, 
as so often since, found its expression in the ferocity 
of the Sultan. Selim issued orders for the massacre 
of all the Christians in the city : happily his Vizier 
deferred the execution of the command, and it was 


Constantinople under the lurks 

revoked. The incident is characteristic. From 1453 
the Christian inhabitants of the capital have held their 
lives simply at the pleasure of the Commander of the 
Faithful. At any moment the word may be spoken 
which the loyal Turk must obey 

" For an order has come from the Padishah 
I must go and kill the Giaour." 

The butchery was countermanded in 1571, but little 
more than twenty years later it was again seriously 
proposed. When the Spaniards in 1595 sacked Patras, 
the extermination of the Christians in Constantinople 
" was discussed in the divan, but the result was con- 
fined to the publication of an order for the expulsion 
of all unmarried Greeks from Constantinople within 
three days."^ This was in the reign of Murad III., 
and when he died, in the same year, "the Janissaries, 
in their wonted manner, fell to spoiling Christians and 
Jews, and were proceeding to further outrages, when 
their aga, to restrain their insolence, hung up a 
Janissary taken in the act of murdering a rayah." 

The alarm of Mussulman Constantinople was ended 
by the s])eedy reconstruction of a fleet, and by the 
capture of Tunis. But with none of these triumphs 
was it possible to associate the name of Selim. He 
died on December 12, 1574, "the victim," in 
the phrase of the Vicomte A. de la Jonquiere, " de sa 
passion pour le vin." 

Murad III. his son and successor was not without 
good instincts. He was a striking contrast to his 
father. He loved study, he was temperate, he was a 
soldier. But the terrible custom, now become almost a 
law of state, laid its frightful burden of crime upon him 
at the moment of his succession. For eighteen hours 
he refused to be proclaimed, he argued with the Muftis 

Finlay, voL v. p. 91. See Von Hammer, viii. 134, 317. 


The Story of Constantinople 

and the Ministers, to save the lives of his brothers. 
But he yielded, willingly or unwillingly, and the chief 
of the mutes was summoned to his presence, shown 
the body of the dead Sultan, and given nine handker- 
chiefs for the nine princes in the Seraglio. Weeping, 
Murad gave the order, says the Venetian ambassador : 
and men thought when he began his reign that he would 
be sober, wise, and just. He did not long retain 
the reputation. He began a war with Persia and his 
troops were engaged on the Hungarian frontier. But 
he followed the example of his father. He did not 
himself lead his armies in the field. He rarely left 
the seraglio, where he gave himself up entirely to the 
pleasures which appealed so powerfully to the Moslem. 
The harem and the treasury became his sole delights. 
The ambassadors tell stories that sound fabulous of his 
insane desire for gold. He stripped ornaments from 
ancient works of art and coined them into money ; he 
collected from every quarter ; he pinched and starved 
everything but his private pleasures, and year after year 
he cast into the great marble well which he had made 
beneath his bed " two and a half millions of gold, all 
in sequins and sultanins." Under him the sale of 
offices, which was begun by Rustem, the vizier to whom 
Roxelana induced Suleiman to give his favour, became 
a settled and almost fundamental rule of the state. 
Even judicial and military offices were given for bribes, 
and the money was caressed by the insane Murad and 
cast into the pit over which he slept. The ambassadors 
describe in ludicrous language the impression which 
Murad made upon them. He sat in state to receive 
them, he received their presents, he listened to them 
with a stupid stare ; then he " went back to his garden, 
where in deep sequestered spots his women played 
before him, danced and sang, or his dwarfs made 
sport for him, or his mutes, awkward and mounted on 

Constantinople under the lurks 

as awkward horses engaged with him in ludicrous 
combats, in which he strucic now at the rider now at 

rnl^H-^'V" r *''f' """V" •'"«" P^i-formed lascivious 
comedies before him." In fact the Sultans were be- 
coming ridiculous, without ceasing to be terrible As 
for governrnent Muiad left it to his vizier, a Bo'snian 
Mohammed, who held his office in three reigns and fa 
surpassed any European minister in riches and power 
Se^r ''7^° P^^^^f^lly "ranged the succession of both 

death th. rT"«!" '^' government. But after hi, 
death the chief office was passed from hand to hand 
according to the Sultan's fancy, and always a large sum 
found Its way at each change of viziers, into the' pit of 
gold. The elevation of Ferhat reads like a tale in the 
Arabian Nights. Murad would wander like Haroun 
aI-Rasch,d through the bazaars. One day he heard a 
cook bewailing the misgovernment of the city. He 
questioned him, approved his replies, and next day 
summoned him to the palace and appointed him to the 
ro^etohr ''"'r*'' ^^^ criticise'd, from which he 
nof lol "?"\- ^' *'' " P""°"' "■^^- F"h« did 
wlV h-^ ."■-r " T*"' P"""™' I'"' =" '^^" he escaped 
with h,s life. It was different with others, and ?he 
p ecedent of handing over officers to the vengeance of 

^L^ZT:\ "'r '";°. '"°' -hen th! sofdier 
atucked the Seraglio and demanded the execution of 
he Beyler bey of Roumelia and another. The plane 

M 'i'.-'"':"'"'^^ ''^8^° "^ d^^dly history. ^ 
Murad died on January 6, ,596. His eldest son 
and successor, whose mother was a Venetian marked 
his accession by the most bloody of all the murder^ 
which inaugurated the reign of the Sultans. He had 
his nineteen brothers strangled in his presence and 
then proceeded to govern as though he ifad no objects 
but those of the most exalted Wrtue. After a^few 

" 177 

The Story of Constajitinople 

weeks he left all the work to his ministers, and was 
himself ruled entirely by his mother. In 1596, how- 
ever, the disasters of his army induced him to go himself 
to the war in Wallachia. The sacred standard of the 
Prophet, preserved at Eyub, was unfurled, and on the 
field of Kereskte, Mohammed won a great victory over 
the Austrians. He returned in triumph to Constanti- 
nople, where the rest of his reign was marked by re- 
bellions and misfortunes on all sides. The plague 
made fearful ravages in the crowded streets of Stambui. 
It penetrated into the Seraglio, and it is said that seven- 
teen princesses, sisters of Mohammed, died. The 
sipahis rose and demanded the heads of the eunuchs 
who ruled under favour of the Valideh Sultan. They 
were given up and strangled. But then the Sultan deter- 
mined to take vengeance, he entrusted its execution to 
the Janissaries. The sipahis were ordered to lay down 
their arms ; if they failed to do so they were threatened 
with the penalties of treason. The soldiers thereupon 
delivered up their officers, who were put to death. 
The Sultan himself died in 1603. His son Ahmed 
succeeded him, an elder son having been put to 
death on pretence of having shown independence of 
character which threatened the throne. 

Ahmed I. was but fourteen when he came to the 
throne. Well served by a wise Grand Vizier, his 
reign was marked by some signs of activity, and, 
strange to say, by two years of peace. But the treaty 
of Sitvakorok (1606) with Austria was another step 
in the decline of the Ottomans. 

Ahmed did something to redress the corruption that 
had infected the government. He administered justice 
like the chieftains of old ; he received petitions, and 
saw that grievances were redressed. He began, as he 
grew up, to read of the exploits of Suleiman, and to 
promise himself that he would surpass them ; but he 

Constantinople under the Turks 

had no stability of purpose, and his reign passed away 
in disasters, with the murder of the one eminent 
man, Nousoiih Pacha, who might have saved the State, 
and with the introduction of usages which seemed to 
the Ulemas to strike at the very heart of Moslem law. 
Constantinople was almost abandoned to mob-rule 
because the muftivS forbade the use of tobacco, which 
was introduced by the Dutch. It is impossible now 
to conceive a Turk without this solace; and it is 
strange that it needed the most ingenious arguments 
and the most stubborn defiance to procure the with- 
drawal of the edict which forbade it to the Moslem. 
The poets, we are told, called tobacco, coffee, opium, 
and wine the four elements in the world of happiness ; 
the Ulemas replied that they were the four chiet 
servants of the devil. The people settled the 
question for themselves. 

With Ahmed the custom of butchering the brothers 
of the new Sultan had ceased. He not only spared 
the life of his brother Mustafa, but left directions that 
he should succeed him on the throne. But the 
custom which he began was even more fatal to the 
power of the Turks than that which he ended. The 
succession of the oldest male of the royal house might 
not itself have been a misfortune. But from the time 
when the princes ceased to be strangled they were 
kept in the Seraglio, with no knowledge of the work 
of government, trained only to a voluptuous and 
effeminate life. Mustafa had almost lost his wits when 
he became Sultan ; he had been a prisoner for nearly 
forty years. Within three months his violence, his 
promotion of two pages to be Pashas of Cairo and of 
Damascus, his dislike of the female sex, convinced the 
ministers that he was incapable of governing ; he was 
again removed to the Seraglio, and Osman II., the 
son of iiis brother Ahmed, was elevated to the throne. 


The Story of Constantinople 

Of the troubles which beset the ambassadors and 
how they were redressed more shall be said hereafter. 
Osman's six years of rule were disturbed by sterner 
men. The Janissaries again showed that their power 
was greater than that of the Sultan. Osnian decimated 
them in war, and executed many who drank wine ; but 
they were too strong for him, dragged the unhappy 
Mustafa again from prison, and again declared him to be 
the ruling Sultan. The Kafess (cage), the splendid 
building in the grounds of the old Seraglio, which even 
now may not be approached, which had so long held 
him prisoner, has memories of no stranger history than 
his. When he was dragged forth he trembled before 
his nephew, and threw himself at his feet. Osman 
taunted the Janissaries with the weakness of the ruler 
they preferred to himself; but it was not weakness 
that the Janissaries feared. Osman was dragged to 
the Seven Towers, and there, after a desperate 
struggle, he was strangled in a dungeon. Within a 
few months the idiot Mustafa was again deposed and 
sent back to the Kafess, where soon afterwards the 
bowstring ended his miserable Hfe. For the few 
months of his nominal reign he was entirely in the 
hands of the soldiery ; minister after minister was 
given up to them, and ended his life by the bowstring 
or on the fatal tree. The Janissaries held Constanti- 
nople in terror, and raised and deposed a Sultan as 
easily as a minister. 

Murad IV., still a child, the surviving son of 
Ahmed, was made Sultan in 1623. In him the 
Turks had again a masterful and determined ruler. 
His mother the Valideh, and his Vizier Hafiz, made 
the first years of his reign distinguished if not glorious. 
Till 1632 he trained himself in all military exercises ; 
he rode, he drew the bow with the best of the 
Janissaries. Then came the revolt of the Sipahis and 

Constantinople under the Turks 

Janissaries, which gave him his opportunity. Con- 
stantinople was for many days in the hands of the 
military mob, reinforced by dissaffected troops who 
had returned from Persia. They assembled in the 
Atmeidan (the old Hippodrome) ; thence they went 
to the Seraglio and demanded the " seventeen heads " 
of the Sultan's chief advisers and friends. For some 
days Murad held out. He summoned the Vizier, 
Hafiz, who rode through the crowd, past the barracks 
of the Janissaries, in at the Orta Kapou, after dis- 
mounting, the stones of the mob falling round him as 
he disappeared. Murad ordered him to escape to 
Juntan. Within a few hours the Sultan was com- 
pelled to come forth to the people and hold Divan. 
They demanded the seventeen — the " vizier, the aga 
of the Janissaries, the deftarder, and even a boy, 
because he was liked by the Sultan." " Give us the 
heads," they cried. " Give the men up to us, or it 
shall be the worse for thee." 

Murad summoned Hafiz to return to die. The 
Vizier came back, made the ablution of the Moslem 
law before death, went forth calmly to the mob, and 
was hewn in pieces outside the gate of the Seraglio. 
"Infamous assassins," cried Murad, "who fear neither 
Allah nor his prophet, some day if God wills you 
shall find your victims terribly avenged." "The sole 
remedy against abuses is the sword," one said to the 
Sultan ; and the rest of his life showed how well he 
understood the lesson. One by one the leaders of the 
revolt were secretly assassinated ; their bodies were 
found floating on the Bosporus. The Janissaries and 
the sipahis were ostensibly received into favour again, 
justice was promised, and the strict rule of law. 
But it was a reign of terror that Murad inaugurated. 
His first execution had given him a passion for blood. 
Sometimes he gratified it in the chase, when he 


7he Story of Constantinople 

slaughtered thousands of head, driven together by an 
army of beaters. More often it was displayed in the 
slaughter of men. In the year 1637 it was declared 
that he had executed 25,000 men, many of them with 
his own hand. " He was now terrific to behold. 
His savage black eyes glared threateningly in a 
countenance half hidden by his dark brown hair and 
long beard ; but never was its aspect more peculiar 
than when it showed the wrinkles between the eye- 
brows. His skill with the javelin and the bow was 
then sure to deal death to some one. He was served 
with trembling awe. His mutes were no longer to be 
distinguished from the other slaves of the Serai, for all 
conversed by signs. While the plague was daily 
carrying off fifteen hundred victims in Constantinople, 
he had the largest cups brought from Pera, and drank 
half the night through, while the artillery was dis- 
charged by his orders."^ 

Drunken and brutal as he was he had still much of 
the terrible force of the early Ottomans. He led his 
own troops to battle, and when they flinched — for the 
old spirit seemed to have deserted even the Janissaries 
— he drove them forward with his own sword. He 
appears in history as the Conqueror of Bagdad (1638) 
a conquest marked, it is said, by a massacre of 25,000 
people. He was the last Sultan whom the people of 
Constantinople saw return in triumph from a war of 
which he himself had been the leader. 

He died on February 9, 1640, leaving behind him 
no child. Only his mother's craft had prevented the 
murder of his only brother, the last of the race of 
Osman. He left behind him an empire which seemed 
entirely subdued to the Sultan's will. But the terror 
which he had inspired could not endure ; and while it 
lasted it could only paralyse the forces which should 
1 Ranke, p. 25. 

Constantinople under the Turks 

have given strength and permanence to the empire. 
Greedy, avaricious to an extent as enormous but not 
so ridiculous as Murad III., the supreme passion of his 
life was the lust of blood. It became an insanity ; at 
night he would rush through the streets, cutting down 
all whom he met. Yet he died in his bed ; the time 
had not come when Sultans were murdered as easily as 
Viziers. Ibrahim, his successor, had been imprisoned 
in the Kafess since he was a child of two. He had 
lived through the reigns of Mustafa, Osman and 
Murad. He had been allowed no offspring. He 
was utterly ignorant of politics and war. He cared 
for nothing but the pleasures of the harem. When 
the soldiers went in to announce his accession he 
would not believe that they desired anything but his 
death. He would not be convinced till the corpse 
of his brother was brought before him. Then he 
screamed with insane delight, " The empire is at last 
delivered from its butcher. *' 

His reign of nine years was a horrible mixture of 
tragedy and farce. In licentiousness he outdid the 
worst of his predecessors, in folly the silliest of them. 
The capture of the child of a favourite slave led to the 
war of Candia : the marriage by his orders of his baby 
daughter to a rich Pacha was used as an occasion to 
strangle the bridegroom and seize his treasures. At 
length the shameful crimes of the sovereign, of which 
murder seemed the least, caused an organised insur- 
rection in the city. The chief Mufti, whose daughter 
had been shamefully used by the Sultan, assembled all 
the mollahs, and the officers of the Janissaries and 
the sipahis in the Orta djami (a mosque on the 
Etmeidan, the old quarter of the Janissaries, now 
destroyed). They first demanded the execution of 
the Vizier. When that was refused, the Janissaries 
secured the gates, surrounded the Seraglio, caught 


The Story of Cofistantinople 

and slew the Vizier. In S. Sophia, the Mufti, the 
Sheik-ul-Islam, proclaimed to a vast multitude the 
iniquities of the Sultan, and demanded his deposi- 
tion. Solemnly the Osmanlis declared Ibrahim, 
the padishah, the king of kings, the commander ot 
the faithful, unworthy to reign. His little child, 
Mohammed, only seven years old, was fetched from 
the charge of his mother, the famous Valideh Sultan, 
and invested with the ensigns of sovereignty. Ibrahim 
was again carried to the Kafess. Ten days later ap- 
peared the mutes, with the Vizier and the Sheik-ul- 
Islam ; and the bowstring ended the life of Ibrahim. 

Mohammed IV. reigned for nearly forty years, 
1649-1687, and he filled a great space in the history 
of his time. Foreign observers — notably that most 
entertaining writer Paul Ricaut, Esquire, " late secre- 
tary to his Excellency the Earl of Winchelsea, Em- 
bassador Extraordinary for His Majesty Charles II., 
to Sultan Mahomet Han the Fourth Emperor of the 
Turks, now Consul of Smyrna, and Fellow of the 
Royal Society,'* in his ** History of the present state 
of the Ottoman Empire," and a certain escaped slave 
(unless indeed it be an ingenious gentleman of Grub 
Street) who wrote in 1663 ** A new survey of the 
Turkish Empire and Government " — made Europe 
well acquainted with the customs of the Turks, and the 
manners, especially the least pleasing manners, of their 
rulers. The Turk become better known, yet hardly 
less terrible ; and our knowledge of the revolutions of 
Constantinople now comes to us, for the first time, 
largely from English observers. The story must be 
briefly sketched. In the first year of the child- 
Sultan's reign tragedies of the palace succeeded each 
other with fearful rapidity. 

There was a contest between the Valideh, the 
mother, and Kiosem (as Ricaut calls her), the 

Constantinople under the Turks 

grandmother of Mohammed. The aga of the 
Janissaries took part against Sinan the Vizier, who, 
with the old queen, determined to put a young child, 
Suleiman, on the throne. Sinan took prompt measures. 
He entered the Seraglio, had the Valideh aroused and 
sent to the bedside of her son. The household 
was armed. Suspected traitors were slain before 
Mohammed's eyes, and their blood bespattered his 
dress as he sat on his throne. While within the 
Seraglio there was this confusion, without the whole 
city was in disturbance, and the people were all 
aroused to defend their Sultan. 

Ricaut's description is worth quoting. He derived 
his knowledge from some persons intimately concerned, 
and the way he tells the tale, from which a short 
passage is here given, shows how Eastern doings struck 
the Westerns of his day. 

** These preparations," he says,^ " were not only in 
the Seraglio, but likewise v/ithout ; for the Visier had 
given order to all the Pashaws and Beglerbegs, and 
other his Friends, that without delay they should 
repair to the Seraglio with all the force they could 
make, bringing with them three days Provision, oblig- 
ing them under pain of Death to this Duty. In a 
short space so great was this concourse, that all the 
Gardens of the Seraglio, the outward Courts and all 
the adjoining Streets were filled with armed Men : 
from Galata and Tophana came boats and barges 
loaden with Powder and Ammunition and other 
necessaries ; so that in the morning by break of day 
appeared such an Army of Horse and Foot in the 
Streets, and Ships and Gallies on the Sea, as ad- 
ministered no small terrour to the Janizaries ; of 
which being advised, and seeing the concourse of 
the people run to the assistance of the King, they 
1 Pp. 31-32. 


The Story of Constantinople 

thought it high time to bestir themselves ; and there- 
fore armed a great company of Albaneses, Greeks and 
other Christians to whom they offered Money, and 
the Title and Priviledges of Janizaries, promising to 
free them from Harach, or Impositions paid by the 
Christians ; which Arguments were so prevalent, that 
most taking Arms, you might see the Court and City 
divided, and ready to enter into a most dread con- 
fusion of a Civil War.'' 

The end of the matter was that **the old queen" 
was dragged njked from the Seraglio, a horror un- 
known in Turkish history, and bowstrung outside the 
Orta Kapou. The banner of the Prophet was un- 
furled. The Janissaries rallied to it. Their aga was 
deserted and slain, with his accomplices, and (by re- 
tributive justice) the Vizier was s.^bbed in the streets. 
Tranquillity was re-established, and the government 
was carried on from the harem. From 1649 to 1656 
six Viziers were deposed or strangled. Pacha after 
Pacha broke into open revolt, the Janissaries and 
sipahis fought against each other as if there had been 
no Christians to conquer, and in turn demanded from 
the Sultan the heads of those whom they chose to 
proscribe. The Valideh Sultan was wisely and care- 
fully educating her son. In 1656 she gave him the 
best of teachers and viziers in Kuprili Mohammed. 
With him began the age of the great Viziers who 
for a time revived the glory of the Turks. He 
showed with severity that he intended to rule ; and 
the Turks have always submitted to one who knows 
how to command. The sipahis were sent away from 
Constantinople and settled in the provinces. A 
rising was sternly checked, and four thousand corpses 
were thrown into^he sea. Thus began the rule of the 
Kuprilian Viziers, which lasted from 1659 to 1702, a 
half century of varying fortunes, but never wholly 


Constantinople under the Turks 

unfavourable to the Turks. The interminable war 
with Candia went on, and the Austrian and Hungarian 
campaigns succeeded each other with undeviating regu- 
larity. The Turks met Montecuculi, and Sobieski, in 
the field ; and when they were defeated they were at 
least not disgraced. In 1683 Kara Mustafa, the 
Vizier, was defeated before Vienna and the Turks 
were driven back to Belgrade. Though he was the 
Sultanas son-in-law an order was sent to the camp for 
him to die ; he placed the cord with his own hands 
round his neck. In the year of continuous warfare, 
when the forces of the empire bore the Turkish 
banners against Venice, as well as the Empire, the 
vices and neglect of the Sultan passed for a time 
almost unheeded. But in 1687 the defeat of the 
army led to a demand for the punishment of the 
general, Suleiman Pacha. Mohammed saw that this 
was but a step towards his own deposition. He 
sacrificed his minister, and ordered the execution of 
his own brother Suleiman, that there might be no one 
to replace him. But it was too late. The army, in 
rebellion, marched on Constantinople, released Sulei- 
man and invested him as Sultan. Mohammed was 
imprisoned till his death in 1693. 

Suleiman II. reigned but four years, but he showed 
an unexpected ability. His accession was marked by 
what had now become a custom, an insurrection of the 
Janissaries. The house of the Grand Vizier was 
sacked, his harem was violated, and the most shameful 
atrocities were committed in the streets. Constan- 
tinople seemed to be given over to pillage ; the 
bazaars were attacked, and some private houses were 
pillaged. The Shiek-ul-Islam was obliged to arouse 
the Ulemas and display the standard of the Prophet 
over the gate of the Seraglio, and when the Janissaries, 
like spoilt children, returned to their allegiance, their 


The Story of Constantinople 

leaders were executed and peace was restored. In 
Suleiman the people had again a sovereign who lived 
according to the precepts of the Koran. His wisdom 
and impartiality, extended even to allowing the 
Christians of Constantinople to rebuild some of their 
ancient churches, were recognised even by fanatics and 
he was counted a saint. His wars were carried on by 
Kuprili Mustafa, to whom also his brother Ahmed II. 
(169 1 -1 69 5) abandoned all the power of government, 
at the death of that wise statesman at the head of the 
defeated army of the Turks at Salankanem. Mustafa 
II. (169 5- 1 703) was the son of Mohammed IV. 
His first proclamation to his people was a strange 
document to issue from the arbitrary sovereign of the 
Osmanlis. He attributed all the defeats and mis- 
fortunes of the last reigns to the vices of the Sultans. 
" While the Padishahs who have ruled since our 
sublime father Mohammed have heeded nought but 
their fondness for pleasure and for ease, the unbelievers, 
the unclean beings, have invaded with their armies the 
four quarters of Islam." In any other monarchy it 
would have been dangerous indeed to criticise after 
this fashion. At Constantinople neither the pen nor 
the voice was of much importance. It was the sword 
that ruled. 

And the sword of the Sultan had ceased to be 
victorious. In 1697 Mustafa was utterly defeated by 
Prince Eugene at Zenta. Again a Kuprili was 
called to command, but by the treaty of Carlowitz, 
1699, by which Hungary and Transylvania were 
given up, the dismemberment of the Empire had 

For the last two years of his reign Mustafa aban- 
doned his capital and lived in a palace at Adrianople. 
An intrigue deposed him in 1703, and his brother 
Ahmed reigned in his stead. He began his reign by 

Constanti?iople under the Turks 

executing all those who had taken part in his elevation, 
an act which he followed by appointing another Kuprili 
Vizier. The next year was marked by the beginning 
of serious wars with Russia, the bizarre sojourn of 
Charles XII. at Bender, and the treaty of Passarowitz 
(17 1 8). The wars in which Turkey was now year 
by year involved continued the slow process of the 
dismemberment of Turkey ; but Constantinople hardly 
felt the blows which struck the Empire at its ex- 
tremities. The description which English travellers 
give of the city shows that strangers passed freely 
about in it, and that in many respects it was superior 
to other European capitals as they were then, and 
particularly in the condition of its streets, to what it 
became a hundred years later, and remains to-day. 
A passage from Pocpcke's travels (published in 1745) 
is worth quoting here. His description of the four 
"royal" mosques he saw, those of Ahmed, Suleiman, 
Selim, and Mohammed the Conqueror, shows that they 
were much as they are to-day, but on the other hand 
S. Sophia and the Church of the Studium are mani- 
festly worse now than then ; the latter indeed, now a 
mere ruin, was then *' the finest mosque next after Saint 
Sophia." Of the city he writes thus ^ : — 

" Great part of the houses of Constantinople are 
built with wooden frames, mostly filled up with unburnt 
brick; and a great number of houses are made only of 
such frames covered with boards. They have not- 
withstanding very good rooms in them ; and the streets 
are tolerable, with a raised footway on each side. The 
street of Adrianople is broad, and adorned with many 
public buildings; to the south of it there is a vale 
which is to the north of the seventh hill. The 
bazestans or shops of rich goods are such as have been 
described in other places ; and many of the shops for 

^ Travels^ vol, ii., pp. 117-128. 


The Story of Constantinople 

other trades are adorned with pillars, and the streets in 
wliich they are, covered over in order to shelter from 
the sun and rain. There are also several large kanes, 
where many merchants live, and most of these have 
apartments in them, where they spend the day, and 
retire at night to their families in their houses. The 
bagnios also are to be reckoned another part of the 
magnificence of Constantinople, some of them being 
very finely adorned within. The fountains, likewise, 
are extremely magnificent, being buildings about twenty 
feet square, with pipes of water on every side; and 
within at each corner there is an apartment, with an 
iron gate before it, where cups of water are always 
ready for the people to drink, a person attending to fill 
them; these buildings are of marble, the fronts are 
carved with bas-reliefs of trees and flowers and the 
eaves projecting six or seven feet ; the soffit of them is 
finely adorned with carved works of flowers, in alto 
relievo, gilt with gold in a very good taste, so that 
these buildings make a very fine appearance." 

Dr Pococke was certainly a somewhat dull person, 
and as certainly a thorough Englishman. One feels 
that he never quite got over his surprise that S. 
Sophia was not like Westminster Abbey or the 
Golden Gate like Temple Bar. Happily we have 
a contrast to him in the literature of his time. 

Certainly the most charming, perhaps the most 
characteristic, account of the city of the Sultan that 
the eighteenth century has left us, is that of the Lady 
Mary Wortley Montague. 

Her husband was appointed ambassador to the Sub- 
lime Porte in 1716, and she accompanied him. The 
letters which form the records of her journey out, of 
her life in Constantinople and of her return, serve to 
show, as the " Lady " who wrote a preface to them 
when they were published says she is * malicious enougli 



Constantinople under the Turks 

to desire/ '• to how much better purpose the ladies 
travel than their lords." The skill and point with 
which &he tells the most ordinary incidents of her 
travel?, no less than fixes on the contrasts that are so 
striking between what she sees and what her corres- 
pondents are accustomed to, gives the letter an im- 
perishable charm. But not a little also is due to the 
position of the writer. Merchants, and ordinary travel- 
lers, as she says, had told the world long before a great 
deal about the marvels of the Turkish Empire ; but 
Lady Mary was a woman, a very clever woman, and 
an ambassador's wife. She had the entree where few 
others could go, and she knew as very few others did 
how to describe what she had seen. 

The position of an European ambassador's household 
in Pera in the eighteenth century, was by no means 
entirely pleasant, and indeed it was not wholly without 
risks, even for an ambassador's wife. Lady Mary, 
however, went everywhere and saw everything, and, 
in the midst of a good deal of domestic discomfort, ac- 
commodated herself amazingly to the cosmopolitan and 
polyglot life which she came to delight in. ** I live," 
she wrote, "in a place that very well represents the 
tower of Babel, in Pera they speak Turkish, Greek, 
Hebrew, Armenian, Arabic, Persian, Russian, Slav- 
onian, Wallachian, German, Dutch, French, Eng- 
lish, Italian, Hungarian, and what is worse, there are 
ten of these languages spoken in my own family." 
Children of three years old often speak five languages, 
she says, a statement that would be as nearly true now 
as it was then. This she professes to find annoying, 
it was really delightful, other things were not so 

Constantinople in earlier times had not been a pleasant 
resort for ambassadors. The Memoires sur V amhassade 
de France en Turqute, written by M. le Comte de 

N 193 

Ihe Story oj Constantinople 

Saint-Priest, at the end of the eighteenth century, 
show how difficult and dangerous had been the position 
of the envoys. They are a brilliant sketch of the work 
of the able French ambassadors who had endeavoured 
from the time of Francis I. and Suleiman the Magni- 
ficent, to confirm an alliance which should secure to 
France a flourishing trade in the Levant, and a power- 
ful ally against the House of Hapsburg. Their success 
was considerable, but it was not infrequently interfered 
with by their own eccentricities. Savari de Lancosmc 
(1585) was so rash that his cousin Savari de Breves 
was sent out to supersede him, and he promptly in- 
duced the Turks to imprison him in the Seven Towers. 

Achillc de Harlay Sanay (1611-17) procured the 
escape of an imprisoned Pole, and was in consequence 
himself " outrage en sa personne et celle de ses gens " 
and made to pay 20,000 piastres. Tlie Comte dc 
Marchcville in 1639, found "le logis de Pambassadeur 
si infamc, qu'on ne se pouvait imaginer qu'un ambassa- 
deur effectif put y demeurer." He built, among 
other additions, two chapels, "one public, the other 
interior." The Turks were furiously enraged, and 
after a good deal of acrimonious complaints, in which 
the people of Gaiata shared, the unhappy ambassador 
was expelled the country. De la Haye, a few years 
later, spent three months in the Seven Towers, and M. 
de Vautelec also had unpleasant experiences. M. de 
Ferriol, illuminating his house on the occasion of the birth 
of a French prince, found himself in danger of expulsion. 
As late as 1 798, a French ambassador, on the declaration 
of war, was imprisoned as usual in the Seven Towers. 

Lady Mary's friend the French ambassadress 
might tell her of some of these catastrophes, but she 
shows no fear that they would happen to herself 
Her descriptions were evidently written with perfect 
freedom, day by day, and it is that which preserves 

Constantinople under the Turks 

their freshness after nearly two centuries. A passage 
or two will bring vividly before us what English folk 
then thought of the Turkish power, and of the sights of 
the capital. 

Here she speaks of the Constitution, just as an ortho- 
dox English politician would wish to speak. 

" The Grand Signior, with all his absolute power, 
is as much a slave as any of his subjects, and trembles 
at a Janizary's frown. Kere is, indeed, a much greater 
appearance of subjection than amongst us ; a minister 
of state is not spoke to, but upon the knee ; should a 
reflection on his conduct be dropt in a coffee-house 
(for they have spies everywhere) the house would be 
razM to the ground, and perhaps the whole company 
put to torture. No huzzaing mobs, senseless pam- 
phlets, and tavern disputes about politics ; 

A consequential ill that freedom draws ; 
A bad etfect, — but from a noble cause. 

None of our harmless calling names ! but when a 
minister here displeases the people, in three hours 
time he is dragged even from his master's arms. 
They cut off his hands, head, and feet, and throw 
them before the palace gate, with all the respect in 
the world ; while the Sultan (to whom they all 
profess an unlimited adoration) sits trembling in his 
apartment, and dares neither defend nor revenge his 
favourite. This is the blessed condition of the most 
absolute monarch upon earth, who owns no law but 
his will." 

To live close to such scenes was an education in 
Oriental politics. Lady Mary lived still nearer to 
the outward show and pomp of the Oriental despots. 
The state of the Sultans was reflected on the am- 
bassadors of powers with whom they desired to be 
friendly. When she travelled from Selivria, along 


The Story of Constantinople 

the shore of the Marmora, Lady Mary and her 
husband had from the "Grand Signior*' "thirty 
covered waggons for our baggage, and five coaches 
for the country for my women." Of the Sultan's 
own state she was most impressed, as travellers are 
to-day, by the Selamlik. Thus she describes it : 

" I went yesterday, along with the French am- 
bassadress, to see the Grand Signior in his passage 
to the mosque. He was preceded by a numerous 
guard of Janizaries, with vast white feathers on their 
heads, as also by the spahis and bostangees (these are 
foot and horse guards) and the royal gardeners, which 
are a very convsiderable body of men, dressed in differ- 
ent habits of fine lively colours, so that, at a distance, 
they appeared like a parterre of tuhps. After them 
the Aga of the Janizaries, in a robe of purple velvet, 
lined with silver tissue, his horse led by two slaves 
richly dressed. Next him the kyzlier-aga (your lady- 
ship knows this is the chief guardian of the Seraglio 
ladies) in a deep yellow cloth (which suited very well to 
his black face) lined with sables. Last came his Sublimity 
himself, arrayed in green, lined with the fur of a black 
Muscovite fox, which is supposed worth a thousand 
pounds sterling, and mounted on a fine horse, with 
furniture embroidered with jewels. Six more horses, 
richly caparisoned were led after him ; and two of his 
principal courtiers bore, one his gold, and the other his 
silver coffee-pot, on a staff; another carried a silver 
stool on his head for him to sit on." 

Her skill certainly lay chiefly in describing social 
functions or eccentricities, and her description of S. 
Sophia — indeed she makes an apology for her ignor- 
ance of architecture — shows a characteristic absence of 
feeling or artistic knowledge. What she says of the 
mosque of Suleiman however, is worth quoting. 

*' That of Sultan Solyman, is an exact square, with 

Constantinople under the Turks 

four fine towers in the angles ; in the midst is a noble 
cupola, supported with beautiful marble pillars ; two 
lesser at the ends, supported in the same manner ; the 
pavement and gallery round the mosque, of marble ; 
under the great cupola, is a fountain, adorned with 
such fine coloured pillars, that I can hardly think them 
natural marble ; on one side is the pulpit of white 
marble, and on the other the little gallery for the 
Grand Signior. A fine stair-case leads to it, and it 
is built up with gilded latrices. At the upper end is 
a sort of altar, where the name of God is written ; and, 
before it, stand two candlesticks, as high as a man, 
with wax candles as thick as three flambeaux. The 
pavement is spread with fine carpets, and the mosque 
illuminated with a vast number of lamps. The court 
leading to it, is very spacious, with galleries of marble, 
of green columns, covered with twenty-eight leaded 
cupolas on two sides, and a fine fountain of basons in 
the midst of it.'* 

The liberality which allowed Christian ladies to see 
the mosques, and even permitted Lady Mary, in spite 
of the horror of her friends and the terrified protests 
of the French ambassadress, to go about in Stambul 
much as she would have walked in S. James's, was 
especially the characteristic of the reign of Suleiman 
II., himself something of a savant^ and of Ahmed 
IT., who actually allowed a printing press to be 
established in the city. But none the less society 
and government were essentially barbarous. Ahmed 
III. was himself deposed in 1730 by an insurrection 
of the Janissaries. His nephew Mahmfid I., son of 
Mustafa II., was his successor. Again within three 
weeks the leaders of the revolution were executed 
before his face. *' These executions " it is quaintly 
said, " when they became known, instead of exciting 
the slightest sedition, gave the greatest joy to the 


The Story of Constantinople 

inhabitants of the capital." Step by step the Turks 
lost ground, by treaties with Persia (1732) and with 
Austria and Russia, by the mediation of France 
(Belgrade, 1739) ; and the new policy of governing 
the lands of Wallachia and Moldavia by "Fanariotes" 
(Greeks of the ancient families who still dwelt in the 
Phanar), was far from successful. In Constantinople 
itself there were emeutes if not insurrections, and in- 
cendiary fires which gave occasion for them. They 
were the usual means of expressing dissatisfaction with 
the government, and the usual means were taken to 
meet them, by the execution of the Sultan's ministers. 
Mahmud died in 1754. He was thought at least to 
have done no harm; and his successor, Osman III., 
was regarded as equally blameless. 

Mustafa III. (1757- 1774) had been many years 
in the Kafess. He was the son of Ahmed III. His 
reign was a succession of misfortunes. The astute 
policy of Catherine II. and her agents in Serbia and 
Croatia, arousing the religious enthusiasm of the 
Christians against the Moslems, the utter neglect 
of the Turkish army and ordnance, the ignorance of 
the ministers, and the superstition of the people, seemed 
to invite a certain and immediate destruction of the 
Empire. Disaster after disaster at last awoke the 
Sultan and his ministers to the necessity of employing 
European aid, and the French ambassador Saint- 
Priest with the Baron de Tott was successful in re- 
forming the army, introducing the bayonet, founding a 
school of mathematics, and infusing a new spirit into 
the Turks. 

Mustafa died in 1774, at a time of unexpected 
success. He had seen at least the necessity of reform. 
Abdul Hamed I., his brother, who succeeded him, had 
been forty-four years a captive. He was not the 
prince to restore the power of his Empire : the treaty 

Constantinople under the Turks 

of Kutchuk-Kainardji (1774) further reduced its 
territory, and gave the cause for war eighty years 
afterwards by the clause allowing to Russia a right to 
represent to the Porte the grievances of the Christians 
in European Turkey. In 1788 the Crimea was 
captured by Russia; in 1789 Abdul Hamed died. 
His nephew Selim III. (i 789-1 807) had to deal with 
all the difficulties introduced into the East by the 
partition of Poland, the schemes of Napoleon, and 
the Mediterranean policy of Pitt. To follow these 
wars which resulted from the new political situation 
would be impossible. It need only be said that the 
French occupation of Egypt, and the decisive entrance 
of England into the Eastern question created as great 
a revolution in the position of Turkey as had occurred 
in any Monarchy of the West. The old alliance 
with France was broken. It became the interest of 
England to preserve the tottering power of Turkey as 
a counterpoise to Russia, and as a security for her 
own interests in the East. 

Internally Turkey, under the energetic Selim, made 
a new start. A cannon foundry was begun at Galata, 
the Top-haneh so familiar to-day : new troops, drilled 
and armed after the European fashion were embodied ; 
new taxes were levied, and a financial administration 
was organized which made some pretence of following 
Western ideas. 

After what has been said so often, it may almost go 
without saying that there was an insurrection of the 
Janissaries to express the orthodox opinion of these 
reforms. The separation of the artillery from the 
Janissaries, and the creation of new regiments of 
infantry for Constantinople, to act as a counterpoise 
to the Janissaries, caused a serious revolt which was 
entirely successful, and the Sultan was obliged to 
receive the Aga as his chief minister. In the very 


The Story of Cojistantinople 

midst of these troubles occurred the famous mission 
of Colonel Sebastiani, which led to the forcing of 
the Dardanelles by the English fleet under Admiral 
Duckworth. The fleet destroyed a small Turkish 
flotilla in the Marmora and cast anchor before the 
city. It was centuries since the people of Constant- 
inople had seen a hostile fleet threatening their city. 
They worked night and day to repair the fortifications, 
to mount cannon, and to man the walls with an efficient 
force. In five days nine hundred cannon were placed 
upon the walls, and the English fleet had to retire. 
The Sultan was forced to declare war against Great 

Within a few weeks he was deposed by another 
insurrection of the Janissaries, encouraged by the 
Sheik-ul-Islam. Again they assembled in the At- 
meidan, again they overturned their kettles, their 
picturesque method of declaring that they would no 
longer eat the food of the Sultan, — attacked the 
Seraglio, murdered all the ministers, and deposed the 
Sultan. The ministers had gladly died that they 
might save their master. It was not sufficient. Can 
a Padishah, who by his conduct and his laws attacks 
the principles of the Koran, be allowed to reign ? 
Impossible. And Selim retired to the Kafess. 

Mustafa IV. was a mere name under which the 
rule of the successful revolutionaries was legitimated. 
Assassination and execution proceeded. The Grand 
Vizier, in command of the army in Bulgaria, was 
beheaded. He was the most conspicuous of a 
hundred victims. 

The Pasha of Rustchuk, Mustafa, called " Bairak- 
dar " (the Standard-be.irer), led 40,000 men to Con- 
stantinople, to restore Selim. He had with him the 
standard of the Prophet, which had accompanied the 
late Grand Vizier to the field. Encamped outside 


Constantinople under the Turks 

the walls, he allowed Mustafa still to hold the palace : 
a few murders and a few depositions were all that 
marked the suspense. On July 28, 1808, Mustafa 
Bairakdar entered the city, declared the Sultan deposed, 
and advanced to the Seraglio to restore Selim III. 
While the troops were kept back at the gates, the 
Sultan determined to secure himself. Selim, after a 
desperate struggle, was murdered in the Kafess. " Take 
Sultan Selim to the Pasha of Rustchuk, since he de- 
mands him," said Mustafa, and the body wrapped in a 
carpet was thrown out. Mahmud, the last surviving 
prince of the house of Osman, but narrowly escaped ; 
the murderers sought him everywhere, but he was 
concealed under a heap of rugs. The avengers of 
blood burst in ; he was rescued : Mustafa IV. was 
thrust into the Kafess, and Mahmud II. at the age of 
twenty-three ascended the throne. 

The reign of Mahmud (1808-1839) witnessed the 
first real introduction of Turkey into the atmosphere 
of the West. He had been trained by the deposed 
Selim, to hate the Janissaries, to play the part, strange 
indeed, of a reforming Sultan. Bairakdar was at 
his side. 

It seemed at first that only a new and more blood- 
thirsty tyrant had begun to reign. On the day of 
his accession, thirty-three heads were exposed on 
the outer gate of the Seraglio, the Bab-i-Humayoun : 
many of the leaders of the Janissaries were strangled 
and thrown into the Bosporus : even the women 
who had shown joy at Selim's murder were sewn 
up in sacks and drowned at Seraglio point. Within 
a few months the government of the new Sultan and 
his Vizier was in danger of ending like those that had 
preceded it. On November 14, 1808, a new revolt 
of the Janissaries broke out. They surrounded the 
palace of the Porte and set fire to it. Bairakdar 


l^he Story of Const ayitlnople 

the Vizier escaped, but only a few days later to meet 
death by exploding a powder magazine rather than 
fall into the hands of his enemies. For four days 
the streets were abandoned to carnage, and to the 
horrors of blood were added those of fire. M. de 
Jucherau, a Frenchman then at Pera, has left a 
vivid description, which is supplemented by that of 
an English traveller. 

"No one," says that eloquent author, "attempted 
to stay the conflagration, which in a short time made 
terrible progress. Soon the most populous quarter of 
Constantinople was covered with a sheet of fire. The 
cries, the groans of women, and old men and children, 
attracted no attention and excited no pity. In vain 
they raised their suppliant hands, in vain they begged 
for beams or planks to save themselves from their 
burning houses by their roofs : their supplications were 
vain : they were seen with indifference to fall and 
to disappear among the flames. The desire of de- 
struction was the only feeling that then prevailed I 
Sultan Mahmood beheld the awful spectacle from one 
of the lofty towers of the Seraglio, but not * like 
another Nero,* as some have unjustly asserted — the 
flames were not of his lighting, and he was anxious 
that they should cease. He ordered Cadi-Pasha to 
stop his carriage, and to retire with his troops within 
the walls of the Seraglio, and despatched a hatti- 
sheriff to the Janissary-agha, commanding him, as 
he valued his head, to exert himself to stay the 
conflagration. As Mahmood was Sultan, and from 
the pledge he had in his hands, was likely to continue 
so, even when the revolt should end, the Janissary- 
agha trembled at the imperial mandate and obeyed ; 
but the fire was too intense and active to be subdued 
or arrested, even by throwing to the ground whole 
stacks of houses : it vaulted over the chasms thus 


Constantinople under the Turks 

made, and only found * sufficient obstacles in the 
public squares and in the mosques, whose vast cupolas 
and massy stone walls have frequently preserved 
Constantinople from entire destruction/ " i 

The fire raged from the Seraglio to the aqueduct of 
Valens, and a man-of-war in the harbour directed its 
cannon on the barracks of the Janissaries in the At 
meidan. The troops of the barracks on the other 
side of the Horn, at the Arsenal and at Top-Haneh, 
threw in their lot with the Janissaries. Mahmiid 
within the Seraglio took the precaution which he had 
so long refrained from : he ordered the murder of his 
brother Mustafa IV., and the body was thrown out to 
the Janissaries. In a few hours Mahmud outwardly 
submitted. The new troops were disbanded ; the 
barracks were destroyed ; the military schools, the 
mathematical institution, the printing press, every sign 
of the dangerous introduction of Western ideas, entirely 
disappeared. Even the ladies of the Seraglio ceased 
to learn French, and Mahmud abandoned the enervat- 
ing amusements of the opera and the ballet. For six- 
teen years a curtain fell, raised only to show an 
occasional massacre. Constantinople returned to its 
condition as the most orthodox of Moslem cities. 
It was at this time that the greatest of all European 
ambassadors at Constantinople first made acquaintance 
with the power in whose fortunes he was to become so 
powerful a factor. Stratford Canning came to Stambul 
in 1808, as secretary to a special mission. These 
were his first impressions of Turkey. 

" The state ^ of Turkey itself was anything but 
satisfactory in view of those powers who did not 
wish the Porte to become the prey either of Russia or 

* Constantinople In 1828, by C. MaoFarlane, p. 506. 
'^ Life of Lord Stratford di RedJi_R'cy by Stanley Lane Poole, 
I volume edition, p. 18. 


The Story of Constantinople 

of France. The throne of the empire was filled by a 
young Sultan, who had recently succeeded to his 
brother Mustafa, whose immediate predecessor, their 
cousin Selim, had fallen a sacrifice to the mutinous 
spirit of the Jannissaries. Mahmud, the reigning 
sovereign, was for some time the last of his race. 
Young, ignorant, and inexperienced, he had everything 
to apprehend from the circumstances in which he was 
placed. Both morally and materially his empire was 
bordering on decrepitude. The old political system of 
Turkey had worn itself out. The population was not 
yet prepared for a new order of things. A depreciated 
currency, a disordered revenue, a mutinous militia, 
dilapidated fortresses, a decreasing population, a stag- 
nant industry, and general misrule, were the monu- 
ments which time had left of Ottoman domination in 
the second capital of the Roman empire and through- 
out those extensive regions wluch had been the 
successive seats of civilisation, ever varying, generally 
advancing, from the earliest periods of social settlement 
and historical tradition. A continual and often a 
sanguinary antagonism of creeds, of races, of districts 
and authorities within the frontier, and frequent wars 
of little glory and much loss with the neighbouring 
powers, had formed of late the normal condition of the 
Porte's dominions." 

Most European observers thought that the Ottoman 
power was doomed to almost immediate extinction ; 
and the next few years increased the illusion. The 
Mussulman population was everywhere declining ; a 
new Greek power was rising; and AH Pasha at Janina 
seemed likely to establish a new Mussulman domina- 
tion which should destroy the Turkish rule. Within 
a few years Greece secured her independence by re- 
bellion. But Canning saw plainly enough that Turkey 
was still strong. As early as 1809 he wrote thus : — 

Constantinople under the Turks 

" Very false notions are entertained in England of 
the Turkish nation. You know much better than 1 do 
the mighty resources and native wealth which this 
enormous empire possesses. I am myself a daily 
witness of the personal qualities of the inhabitants, 
qualities which if properly directed are capable of 
sustaining them against a world of enemies. But the 
government is radically bad, and its members, who are 
all alive to its defects, have neither the wisdom nor the 
courage to reform it. The few who have courage 
equal to the task know not how to reconcile reforma- 
tion with the prejudices of the people. And without 
this nothing can be effected." ^ 

From 1 82 1 the tide turned. The defects of the 
Turkish government did not avail against the valour of 
the Sultan's army, and the dimensions of Europe. The 
tragedies of those days passed far from Constantinople. 
Missolonghi, Navarino, Athens, Janina, Adrianople, 
are names that bring each its memory ; but within the 
city of the Caesars and the Sultans a different tale was 
told. It was the great era of reform, when at last 
Mahmud was able to use his strength, and re-establish 
the power of the Padishah. 

During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries the 
authority of the Commander of the Faithful had sunk, 
decade by decade, till the murder of a Sultan who 
showed an independent policy was as certain as the 
sunrise. The Janissaries were the real masters of the 
city, and of the Empire. The force which had been 
raised to carry out the absolute will of the Sultan had 
now entirely superseded him. Anarchy was sub- 
stituted for the rule of an irresponsible despot. But 
Mahmud had a character of strength unknown in any 
Sultan for two centuries. He had matured his plans, 

^ Life of Lord Stratford Je Re J Jije^ by Stanley Lane Poole, 
I volume edition, p. 19. 


The Story of Constafitinople 

and in 1826 he was able to carry them into execution. 
But for an utterly unforeseen disaster he would doubt- 
less have been able to secure his triumph earlier than 
he did. In 1823 the arsenal and cannon foundry at 
Top-haneh were entirely destroyed by fire. A vast 
quantity of military stores and ammunition was 
destroyed. Pera and Galata suffered severely. It 
is said that fifty mosques and six thousand houses 
were destroyed. Mahmud attributed the fire to the 
Janissaries ; and he became the more determined to 
destroy them. 

Already he had dealt with another enemy. In 1821 
the plots of the Hctairists, working for the liberation 
of Greece, became known. Mahmud immediately 
ordered all Greeks not engaged in trade to be de- 
ported from Constantinople. Then he ordered the 
patriarch and Synod of Constantinople to excommuni- 
cate the leaders who had engaged in the massacre of 
Moslems. The act was issued ; nor can the Church 
be regarded as having done anything but what was 
demanded by Christian charity. 

Hardly was the excommunication issued before a 
number of rich Greeks escaped from the city, evidently 
with the intention of joining the revolutionary armies. 
On March 26 the city was filled with troops, and 
arms were issued to the citizens. Several Hetairists 
were executed ; and when the news came of the 
murder of Moslems in Greece, Mahmud, who had 
already imprisoned seven Greek bishops, ordered the 
public execution of a number of prominent Greeks, 
who were entirely innocent, solely for the purpose of 
alarming their compatriots. But this was not sufficient. 
On Easter Day, April 22, 182 1, the Patriarch of 
Constantinople, Gregorios, was summoned, at dawn, 
when he had finished the offering of the Holy 
Eucharist in his Cathedral Church, into the hall of 



Constantinople under the Turks 

the Synod at the Phanar, by the officers of the 
Sultan. There, before the clergy and the heads of 
the chief Greek families, he was declared deposed by 
the authority of the State, and the trembling priests 
were required to elect a new Patriarch in his stead. 

Within a few hours Gregorios was hung from the 
gate of the patriarchate, with a document pinned to his 
breast, declaring him a traitor in that he knew of the 
Hetairist conspiracy, and did not reveal it. Of the 
charge there is no known proof; and the Greeks have 
always regarded him as a martyr. If he knew the 
details of the conspiracy at all it is more than probable 
that he knew them only in confession ; nor is it at all 
probable that he knew anything but that the Greeks 
intended to strike for their freedom. 

Three bishops were executed on the same day. It 
was not a day to be forgotten. When the body of 
the martyred Gregorios was taken down it was given 
to the Jews to be dragged through the streets and 
cast into the sea. It v/as recovered by night and 
taken by ship to Odessa, where it was interred with 
solemn ceremonial as the remains of a saint and 

This horrible deed was followed by the outbreak of 
anarchy in Constantinople. The Janissaries called for 
a massacre of the Christians in the city to avenge the 
Moslems who had been killed in Greece. The 
Christian quarters were attacked, the Christian villages 
on the Bosphorus were robbed, and the patriarchate 
was sacked. Greek clergy and nobles were executed 
daily, and four bishops were among the slain. No 
Christians were allowed to leave the city without a 
passport or vengeance was exacted upon the family. 
The massacres that occurred in Constantinople were 
tolerated if they were not organised by the authorities ; 
several subjects of Western nations were murdered. 

o 209 

The Story of Constantinople 

All that was done by Christian Europe was to protest. 
The Russian ambassador left Constantinople, having 
demanded that the massacres should cease and the 
churches be rebuilt that had been destroyed. Mahmud 
replied that only traitors were ill-treated. But the 
massacres ended, at least for a time. 

While all danger of a Christian rising in Constanti- 
nople was thus prevented, Mahmud was maturing the 
plans which in 1825 made him at last an absolute 
ruler, at least in his own city. 

For seventeen years Mahmud prepared for this great 
stroke. First by gifts and offices he detached many of 
the supporters of the Janissaries and the Ulemas from 
the party which supported them. Some less important 
members of the body were arrested for infraction of the 
laws and were publicly executed. Others were secretly 
made away with. The Sultan was surrounding him- 
self with an elaborate spy system and with agents who 
were capable of dealing in detail with those whom he 
wished to be put out of the way. Lord Stratford de 
Redcliife, in his *' Memoirs," says ; "I remember 
that in crossing the Golden Horn from time to time 
I had observed loose mats floating here and there upon 
the water, and that in answer to my enquiries I had 
been told in a mysterious manner that they had served 
for covering the bodies thrown after private executions 
into the harbour." All this was done slowly ; the 
power of the Janissaries was gradually undermined ; 
'* almost unparalleled craft and cruelty," some observers 
called the process, but to Mahmud it seemed absolutely 

In 1826 the Sultan perceived that the time limit 
had come. A meeting of all the chief functionaries 
of the Empire and chief officers of the Janissaries was 
held. They agreed to submit to the new military 
discipline and organisation which the Sultan designed. 

Constantinople under the Turks 

All signed their names. On June 12 the first exercises 
of the new order were begun. On the 16th the in- 
ferior officers and the soldiers declared that they would 
not submit. The levolt was proclaimed in the ancient 
manner. Tlie kettles were overturned, and the whole 
force was called to arms. Mahmud crossed from 
Bekistasch to the Seraglio ; the standard of the 
Prophet was displayed ; the city was filled with the 
troops upon whom the Sultan could rely ; the Moslem 
population rallied round the green flag. Th" people 
assembled in the Atmeidan (the Hippodrome); Mahmiid 
went to the mosque of Ahmed. The Janissaries were 
summoned to submit to the new order. They in 
return demanded the destruction of the " subverters of 
the ancient usages of the Empire." Then their fate 
was sealed. They had advanced to the mosque of 
Bayezid ; they were rapidly driven back and hemmed 
in in their quarters in the Etmeidan. Then from 
every side artillery was directed upon them. From 
his house in Pera Stratford Canning, at dinner, saw 
" two slender columns of smoke rising above the 
opposite horizon." What did they mean ? The 
Sultan, he was answered, had fired the barracks of the 
Janissaries. The rest of the tragedy may best be told 
in Canning's own words : ^ 

" The Sultan was determined to make the most of 
his victory. From the time of his cousin Selim's 
death he had lived in dread of the Janissaries. A 
strong impression must have been made upon his mind 
by the personal danger which he had encountered. It 
was said that he had escaped with his life by getting 
into an oven when the search for him was hottest. 
His duty as sovereign gave strength as well as dignity 
to his private resentment. That celebrated militia, 
which in earlier times had extended the bounds of the 
» Life, pp. X37-138. 


The Story of Constantinople 

empire, and given the title of conqueror to so many of 
the Sultans, which had opened the walls of Constan- 
tmople itself to their triumphant leader, the second 
Mohammed, were now to be swept away with an 
unsparing hand and to make room for a new order of 
things, for a disciplined army and a charter of reform. 
From their high claims to honour and confidence they 
had sadly declined. They had become the masters of 
the government, the butchers of their sovereigns, and a 
source of terror to all but the enemies of their country. 
Whatever compassion might be felt for individual 
sufferers, including as they did the innocent with the 
guilty, it could hardly be said that their punishment as 
a body was untimely or undeserved. 

The complaints of those who were doomed to de- 
struction found no echo in the bosoms of their con- 
querors. They were mostly citizens having their 
wives, their children, or their parents, to witness the 
calamity which they had brought in thunder on their 
necks. Many had fallen under the Sultan's artillery ; 
many were fugitives and outlaws. The mere name of 
Janissary, compromised or not by an overt act, operated 
like a sentence of death. A special commission sat for 
the trial, or rather for the condemnation of crowds. 
Every victim passed at once from the tribunal into the 
hands of the executioner. The bowstring and the 
scimitar were constantly in play. People could not 
stir from their houses without the risk of falling in 
with some terrible sight. The Sea of Marmora was 
mottled with dead bodies. Nor was the tragedy con- 
fined to Constantinople and its neighbourhood. Mes- 
sengers were sent in haste to every provincial city 
where any considerable number of Janissaries existed, 
and the slightest tendency to insurrection was so 
promptly and effectually repressed, that no disquieting 
reports were conveyed to us from any quarter of the 


Constanti?iople under the Turks 

Empire. Not a day passed without my receiving a 
requisition from the Porte, calling upon me to send 
thither immediately the officer and soldiers comprising 
my official guard. I had no reason to suppose that 
any of them had been concerned in the revolt, and 1 
was prttty sure that they could not repair to the Porte 
without imminent danger of being sacrificed. I ven- 
tured, therefore, to detain them day after day, first on 
one pretext, then on another, until, at the end of 
a week, the fever at headquarters had so far subsided 
as to open a door for reflection and mercy. Relying 
on this abatement of wrath, I complied, and the inter- 
preter whom I directed to accompany them, gave every 
assurance on their behalf which I was entitled to ofler. 
The men were banished from the capital, but their 
lives were spared, and many years later I was much 
pleased by a visit from their officer, who displayed 
his gratitude by coming from a distance on foot to 
regale me with a bunch of dried grapes and a pitcher 
of choice water. Let me add that this instance of 
good feeling on the part of a Turk towards a Christian 
is only one of many which have come to my know- 

On June 17, 1826, the Janissaries ceased to exist. 
The Sheik-ul- Islam for^nally proclaimed the extinction 
of the corps. A solemn divan was held within the 
Seraglio, and the victory of Mahmud was ratified 
by the council. Then Canning writing on the 20th 
records the end of the revolution which reestablished 
the authority of the Sultan in a position as absolute 
and despotic as it had been in the days of Mohammed 

"The Sultan's ministers are still encamped in the 
outer court of the Seraglio, and I grieve to add 
that frequent executions continue to take place under 
their very eyes. This afternoon, when the person, 


The Story of Constantinople 

to whom I have already alluded, was standing near 
the Reis Efendi's tent, his attention was suddenly 
caught by the sound of drums and fifes, and on 
turning round he saw, to his utter astonishment, a 
body of Turks in various dresses, but armed with 
muskets and bayonets, arranged in European order, 
and going through the new form of exercise. He 
supposes the number to have been about two thousand, 
but never before having seen troops in line he may 
have been deceived in this particular. He says that 
the men acted by word of command, both in marching 
and in handling their arms. The Sultan, who was 
at first stationed at the window within sight, descended 
after a time, and passed the men in review. His 
Highness was dressed in Egyptian fashion, armed 
with pistols and sabre, and on his head in place of 
the Imperial turban was a sort of Egyptian bonnet. 

" Rank, poverty, age, and numbers are alike impotent 
to shelter those who are known as culprits or marked 
as victims. It is confidently asserted that a register 
has been kept of all persons who, since the accession 
of the Sultan, have in any way shown a disposition - 
to favour the designs of the Janissaries, and that all 
such individuals are diligently sought out and cut 
off as soon as discovered. Respectable persons are 
seized in the street and hurried before the Seraskier 
or Grand Vizier for immediate judgment. There 
are instances of elderly men having pleaded a total 
ignorance of the late conspiracy, and being reminded 
of some petty incident which happened twenty years 
ago, in proof of their deserving condign punishment 
as abettors of the Janissaries. Whole companies of 
labouring men are seized and either executed or 
forcibly obliged to quit Constantinople. 

" The entrance to the Seraglio, the shore under the 
Sultan's windows, and the sea itself, are crowded 
2 14 

Cofistatitinople wider the Turks 

with dead bodies — many of them torn and in part 
devoured by the dogs/' ^ 

Theophile Gautier adds even more gruesome 
details. To the destruction of the Janissaries was 
added that of the Becktash derviches. Then the 
new army was formed, organized, drilled. For the 
rest of his reign, Mahmiid's chief thought was to 
perfect the reforms which he had inaugurated in blood. 
When in 1834 he struck coins bearing his own portrait, 
so grave a breach of the rules of the Koran caused 
another insurrection. It was suppressed with fearful 
severity, and added four thousand victims to the tale. 
But tlic coinage had to be called in. Fanatics, 
whom the people regarded as saints, coveted martyr- 
dom by seizing the Sultan's bridle as he rode over 
the new bridge which he had made from Galata to 
Stambul, calling him " Giaour Padishah '' and paying 
Heaven's vengeance on his head. Nothing moved 
Mahmud. Without, misfortunes befell his power on 
every side. He held steadfastly on, and when he 
died in 1839, he left behind him a strong govern- 
ment, and an appearance — it may have been little 
more — of approximation to the ways of Western 
Europe. The aim of Mahmud, indeed, was not 
unlike that of Peter the Great : he wished to make 
his State an integral part of the European system. 
Hitherto, admitted though she was into European 
politics, coveted as ally and dreaded as a foe, Turkey 
had occupied no place among the permanent factors 
of European politics. Mahmud thought to make 
Turkey, really and essentially, a European power. 
It was impossible. 

The external events of the reign, the revolt of 
Mohammed Ali, the treaty of Adrianople, the creation 
of Greece as an independent State, important as they 
' Life. p. 139. 


The Story of Constantinople 

were in the history of the Ottoman power, hardly 
affected Constantinople. 

In 1832, Stratford Canning returned on a special 
mission to Constantinople. He found the outer 
change extraordinary. Mahmiid received him as an 
European sovereign would receive. He began to 
think a real reform of Turkey possible. He secured 
the concession that he sought on behalf of Greece : 
" The new Hellas was lifted up to that great mountain 
ridge whence the eye of the traveller may range un- 
checked over the pastures of Thessaly.*' Canning, 
after renewed experience of the delays and intrigues 
of the Turkish ministers, bade farewell to the Sultan 
for the last time. His character of Mahmud is too 
important to be omitted from our view. It may well 
conclude what we have to say of the most important 
reign in recent Turkish history. 

" Resolution and energy were the foremost qualities 
of his mind. His natural abilities would hardly have 
distinguished him in private life. In personal courage, 
if not deficient, he was by no means superior. His 
morality, measured by the rules of the Koran, was 
anything but exemplary. He had no scruple of taking 
life at pleasure from motives of policy or interest. He 
was not inattentive to changes of circumstance, or 
insensible to the requirements of time. There was 
even from early days a vein of liberality in his views, 
but either from want of foresight, or owing to a certain 
rigidity of mind, he missed at critical times the precious 
opportunity and incurred thereby an aggravated loss. 
His reign of more than thirty years was marked by 
disastrous wars and compulsory cessions. Greece, 
Egypt, and Algiers escaped successively from his rule. 
He had to lament the destruction of his fleet at 
Navarino. On the other hand, he gathered up the 
reins of sovereign }x>wer, which had fallen from the 


Constantinople under the Turks 

hands of his immediate predecessors ; he repressed 
rebellion in more than one of the provinces, and his 
just resentment crushed the mutinous Janissaries once 
and for ever. Checked no longer by them, he intro- 
duced a system of reforms which has tended greatly to 
renovate the Ottoman Empire, and to bring it into 
friendly communion with the Powers of Christendom. 
To him, moreover, is due the formation of a regular 
and disciplined army in place of a factious fanatical 
militia, more dangerous to the country than to its foes. 
Unfortunately his habits of self-indulgence kept pace 
with the revival of his authority, and the premature 
close of his life superseded for a while the progress 
of improvement. Mahmud when young had rather 
an imposing countenance ; his dark beard set off the 
paleness of his face, but time added to its expression. 
His stature was slightly below the average standard, 
his countenance was healthy, he wrote well, he rode 
well, and acquired a reputation for skill in archery. 
It may be said with truth that whatever merit he 
possessed was his own, and that much of what was 
wrong in his character and conduct resulted from 
circumstances beyond his control. Peace to his 
memory ! " ^ 

Abdul-Mejid (i 839-1861), the son of Mahmud 
II., had been brought up in the harem. He was 
only sixteen at his accession, and was utterly ignorant 
of politics. But he had some wise ministers, and 
the defeats of the earlier part of his reign were wisely 
utilised. In 1841 came the practical separation of 
Egypt, the family of Mohammed Ali being established 
there as perpetual pashas or deputies of the Sultan, pay- 
ing tribute, but otherwise free and guaranteed in their 
position by the Powers. 

Unquestionably the great figure in Constantinople 
^ Life, pp. 164-165. 


The Story of Constant'mople 

during the reign of Abdul Mejid was Stratford 
Canning, who came in 1842 as British ambassador. 
He remained till 1852. He returned in 1853, and 
he left finally in 1 8 58. During these years he 
devoted himself to the preservation of Turkey as a 
Power, but only with the hope, and on the condition, 
that she should become civilized. It may have been 
a hopeless task, but in the endeavour it is astounding 
to observe the high measure of success which came to 
the noble Englishman who gave the best years of his 
life to it. Kinglake has immortalised him as "the 
great Elchi." No greater ambassador ever lived ; 
and his greatness lay in the fact that he passed entirely 
beyond the range of ordinary diplomatic functions, and 
made himself as really a part of the Empire to which 
he was accredited as he was essentially the representa- 
tive of the British nation. Needless to tell again the 
tale that has been so well told, of his diplomatic 
triumphs, of his supreme honesty and loyalty, of his 
ceaseless energy, of his magnificent services to humanity 
and religion. 

Throughout the whole of his life in Turkey he kept 
his one aim steadily before his eyes, and never deviated 
from it. If Turkey could be saved he would save 
her ; but it could only be done by carrying out what 
had been the real intention of MahmM the reformer, 
and making an Oriental despotism resemble an 
European government with constitutional guarantees 
for personal and religious freedom. That in the 
long-run he utterly failed is now quite plain. What 
he wrote more than fifty years ago, in spite of super- 
ficial outward changes is really true to-day. " I'here 
is no such thing as system in Turkey. Every man 
according to his means and opportunities gets what he 
can, commands when he dares, and submits wlien he 
must.'* None the less Canning won real victories. 

Constantinople under the Turks 

He procured a declaration that the punishment of 
death should no longer be inflicted on those who gave 
up Islam for Christianity. " It was the first dagger," 
he wrote himself, '* thrust into the side of the false 
prophet and his creed." And indeed so long as Lord 
Stratford de RedclifFe remained at Constantinople 
justice, toleration, good government made progress 
such as could hardly have been conceived before. 

It is needless here to inquire how far the success 
of Turkey in the Crimean War led to the casting 
aside of all reforms, or whether the war was justified 
or how it was caused. Russia's declaration of her 
protectorate over the Orthodox Church ; the belief of 
England and France that they were bound to protect 
Turkey against wanton aggression ; the earnest desire 
of **the great Elchi " to avoid war : these things may 
be read in the Blue Books ^ and in Kinglake's great 
History. Constantinople saw the encampment of 
British troops at Gallipoli and at Skutari ; and then 
came the sad days of the hospitals on the Asiatic shore 
and the English cemetery where sleep so many English 
dead. The Hatti-Humayun of February 21, 1856, 
seemed to embody all that the best friends of Turkey 
could have wished, in its abolition of all distinctions 
telling unfavourably against the exercise of any religion, 
its fine declarations of freedom and equality among all 
subjects of the Porte. But who could enforce it ? 
The story is pitiful, and it shall not here be told. 
Rather let it be remembered when we sail into the 
harbour of Constantinople that the Crimean Memorial 
Church which stands boldly on the heights of Pera was 
the sign of the noble work for religion and freedom 
that had been done by the great Englishman whose 

1 See the correspondence respecting tbe rights and privileges 
of the Latin and Greek Churches in Turkey, presented to 
Parliament 1854. 


The Story of Constantinople 

last public act in the city it was to lay the foundation- 
stone, and whose noble life is simply commemorated 
on a tablet within its walls. 

It was in 1858 that this great embassy ended. 
Three years later Abdul Mejid died ; and his brother 
Abdul Aziz was girt with the sword in the mosque of 
Eyiib. Under his rule outward reforms progressed 
gaily, but the reckless extravagance of the Sultan 
brought the country to financial ruin. Reforms, in- 
surrections, the creation of Roumania, the insurrection 
of Crete, how did these affect Constantinople \ Not 
at all. Only daily the financial disorder became more 
apparent. On May 10, 1876, tlie city witnessed a 
scene which might have seemed proof that Turkey 
was regenerated. The Sultan's son was stopped in 
the streets by crowds who demanded the dismissal of 
the Grand Vizier and the Sheik-ul-Islam. From the 
gorgeous new palace which he had built on ihe 
Bosporus came the reply of Abdul Aziz — " His 
Majesty is deeply touclied with the proof of confidence 
you place in him. It is his pleasure in no way to 
resist the will of his faithful people.'* But it was 
merely one of those delusive pictures which remind 
one of the tricks of the genii in the Arabian Nights. 
There was no real change ; and on May 29, again 
resort was had as in the old days to the Sheik-ul- 
Islam. A reformer, who had been but a few days 
elevated to the post, he declared the lawfulness of 
deposing a Sultan whose conduct was insensate, who 
had no political judgment, who spent on himself sums 
which the Empire could not afford. At dawn on 
May 30 the palace of Dolma Bagtche was surrounded 
by troops, the Sultan was declared a prisoner, and then 
was hurried across to the old Seraglio. A few days 
later he returned to the gorgeous palace of Tcheragan. 
On June 4, he was found dead. It was certified that 

Constantinople under the lurks 

he had opened his veins with a pair of scissors. Few 
Sultans have long survived deposition. 

Murad V. the eldest son of Abdul Mejid was 
received at the Seraskierat with enthusiasm. An- 
nouncements were made which declared him a re- 
former. He was Sultan for only three months. 
Within the first few days a number of the ministers 
were murdered, as they sat in Council, by the brother 
of the wife of Abdul Aziz. A few weeks later it was 
declared that the Sultan was incapable of Government. 
He was deposed with as much ease as his predecessor, 
no one knows to-day whether he is alive or not, and 
Abdul Hamed II., his brother, reigned in his stead. Of 
his reign little need be said. It has seen the Bulgarian 
atrocities, the defeat of Turkey by Russia, the encamp- 
ment of the Russian troops at San Stcfano, the procla- 
mation of a Constitution, a parliament with two houses 
opened by the Sultan himself, the suppression of that 
Constitution and its revival ; it has seen the liberty of 
Bulgaria, Bosnia, Herzegovina, Cyprus and Crete. 

And Constantinople, what may be told here in brief 
is what cannot be forgotten. The Sultan no longer 
lives, like his predecessors, within earshot of his 
people. Yildiz-Kiosk high on the hills above the 
Bosphorus secludes him from the world. No longer 
does the Commander of the Faithful visit the mosques 
of Stambill or ride through the streets with a gorgeous 
military display. The massacres for which precedent 
was set centuries ago have again given the city a ghastly 
fame. In October 1895 crowds of Softas — religious 
students — assembled in the Atmeidan and a massacre 
of Armenians began. The riots lasted for three days. 
The authorities declared that the cause was the re- 
volutionary plots of the Armenians themselves, that 
they did their utmost to preserve order, and that they 
would punish all who were responsible. Ten months 


The Story of Constantinople 

passed. Constantinople in the spring of 1896 was 
outwardly at peace, but arrests were constantly being 
made, and there was a general feeling of insecurity. On 
August 28, 1 896, a band of Armenians seized the Otto- 
man Bank at Galata, killing the guard and imprison- 
ing the officials. After some hours they were allowed 
to depart under a safe conduct. But for nearly two 
days the city was given up to massacre. Bands of 
Moslems rose simultaneously at different parts before 
the police or the military appeared, led or accompanied 
by Softas, by soldiers, by police officers. When the 
troops appeared they looked on. The scenes in the 
streets beggar description. Christians were butchered 
wherever they appeared, were chased into houses and 
over roofs, were shot in their houses by men who took 
the tiles from the roofs across the street, broke the 
windows, and then fired into the rooms where Armenians 
had crowded for refuge. The churches were filled 
with people who sought sanctuary, who had lost 
everything they possessed and dared not leave the 
security of the sacred walls. The churches of Pera 
and Galata, the buildings of the Patriarchate in the 
Psamatia quarter seemed the only safe places. Of the 
numbers killed no count can be given ; two thousand 
certainly perished, but five thousand has been declared 
to have been the total of the victims. For days the 
dead-cart passed through the streets and the murdered 
Christians were carried off with indescribable brutality 
to be cast into huge pits or into the sea. It is im- 
possible as yet to tell the full story. It seems still like 
a horrible dream, a reminiscence of the worst terrors 
of the Middle Age. 

The two acts of tragedy by which it has been 

attempted to destroy a large, and that perhaps the 

richest and most progressive, part of the population of 

Constantinople, emphasise an important historical fact. 




Constantinople under the Turks 

Not only by the importations of Mohammed II., but 
gradually during the four centuries and a half that have 
elapsed since the Conquest, the population of Con- 
stantinople has changed its character. Pera and 
Galata are the home of a mixed race, of whom 
every writer says hard words, and of many nationalities 
still striving to preserve their separate life. Greeks, 
Italians, Germans, French, English, immigrants from 
the Balkan lands, are the most prominent, after the 
Jews and the wealthy Armenians. The divisions 
that are to be seen in the Orthodox Church, per- 
petuated by politicians for their own purposes, are 
the reflection of the national and political divisions 
that we pass through on our way to Constantinople 
and find there in full force. Every league nearer to 
the city walls, as the railway drags its tedious length, 
is a step nearer to barbarism ; and Pera is indeed but 
a poor outpost of civilisation. It has over it a veneer 
of the West. As you walk through the streets you 
might think yourself in an inferior Italian city ; when 
you descend to Galata, down steep streets, half stair- 
ways, you pass through the gate of the Middle Ages 
into a town like any cosmopolitan seaport, crowded 
with sailors and travellers of all nations. 

The Galata bridge, the most wonderful pathway in 
Europe, with its thousands of passengers in every 
strange garb, its Parisian carriages, its Arab steeds 
bearing alert officers, its beggars, mollahs, white tur- 
baned and white coated toll-takers, its ceaseless stream 
of life all day long, brings you to the harbour, the 
historic anchorage of great ships for fifteen hundred 
years or more. ** Eothen " has said once for all what 
comes to mind as we gaze at that magnificent sight, 
life, ships, walls, domes, minarets. 

" Even if we don't take a part in the chaunt about 
* Mosques and Minarets,' we can still yield praises to 

p 225 

The Story of Constantinople 

Stamboul. We can chaunt about the harbour ; we 
can say and sing that nowhere else does the sea conic 
so home to a city ; there are no pebble shores — no 
sand bars — no slimy river beds — no black canals — no 
locks nor docks to divide the very heart of the place 
from the deep waters ; if being in the noisiest part of 
Stamboul, you would stroll to the quiet side of the 
way amidst those cypresses opposite, you will cross 
the fathomless Bosphorus ; if you would go from your 
hotel to the Bazaars, you must pass by tiie bright 
blue pathway of the Golden Horn, that can carry a 
thousand sail of the line. You are accustomed to the 
gondolas that glide among the palaces of St Mark, but 
here at Stamboul it is a hundred-and-twenty-gun-ship 
that meets you in the street. Venice strains out from 
the steadfast land, and in old times would send forth the 
chief of the state to woo and wed the reluctant sea ; 
but the stormy bride of the Doge is the bowing slave 
of the Sultan — she comes to his feet with the treasures 
of the world — she bears him from palace to palace — 
by some unfailing witchcraft, she entices the breezes to 
follow her, and fan the pale cheek of her lord — she 
lifts his armed navies to the very gates of his garden — 
she watches the walls of his serail — she stifles the 
intrigues of his Ministers — she quiets the scandals of 
his Court — she extinguishes his rivals, and hushes his 
naughty wives all one by one, so vast are the wonders 
of the deep ! " ^ 

But you cross the bridge, or you take a caique, and land 
under the old walls ; you pass through some gateway, 
scarcely recognisable ; and in a moment you are in a 
new life. It is the East. The hundreds of solemn 
figures climbing the hill to the daily afternoon prayers 
at the mosque of Mohammed the Conqueror ; the 
busy market that goes on outside the walls, the stalls 

* Eothen, pp. 30, 31. 


Constafitlnoplc under the Turks 

displaying everything that man needs to buy, the 
carpets, the great earthenware vessels, marked in white 
wax with delicate arabesques, the fresh fruits, the 
strange liquors, the stranger cates. A few yards off 
and you are among the streets that belong to par- 
ticular trades, the workers in brass, the cobblers, the 
blacksmiths, the horse-dealers, the sellers of every con- 
ceivable object under the sun, all in their windowless 
shops, laughing, talking, selling, with that stately mien 
which makes a ceremonial of the simplest act. There 
is no vulgar European haste here, no chattering im- 
patience to serve or to bargain ; the ages as they have 
passed over the place seem to have left their solemn im- 
press on the people. Let the story-teller come and 
amuse them ; for themselves they will not hurry or fret 
or speed. All is dignified, stately, restrained. This is 
a Turkish quarter, but the Turks are rarely indeed of 
pure blood. Almost every Asiatic race, and many 
European nationalities, have gone to make the Turks 
of Stambiil — pilgrims from the far East, Christian 
slaves, converts to Islam from every quarter of the 
globe. Negroes are constantly to be met with, eunuchs, 
slaves, and free trading folk. Pass further on and 
you are among the Jews, who remain as large a pro- 
portion of the population as in the fifteenth century, 
when some forty thousand of them were to be found 
in Stambiil. It was they who first opened regular 
shops for the sale of manufactured goods, and 
the greatest shops in the Bazaar to-day are the 
property of Jews. In the great Bazaar with its 
intricate streets and quarters, a great desolation reigns. 
The Jews and the Europeans have invaded its recesses, 
and the pictures that the old books draw of the hag- 
gling and the humour and the riches, have no meaning 
to-day. In the enclosure of the Ahmediyeh you 
may see characteristic Eastern sights. There a man 


The Story oj Constantinople 

sits being shaved. There are stalls heaped with fruit. 
There are sellers pressing rich stuffs and linen on 
Turkish ladies as they pass. And indeed it is not all 
stateliness even among the Turks. Desert the streets 
of the leather-sellers and the brass- workers, come 
down to the markets by the mosques, and tiiere is 
enough vigorous and vivacious life. In the harbour 
among the shipping, where the rowers of caiques clam- 
our for employment, in the Greek quarter, or in the 
Psamatia among the poorer Armenians, there is plenty 
of stir and movement. For a succession of pictures, 
there is no city like Constantinople. Pilgrims from 
the far East, Mongolians, Persians, men of Bokhara 
and Khiva, negroes from the heart of Africa, armed 
many of them to the teeth, most with the strange wist- 
ful half frightened look of strangers and foreigners in 
a civilisation of which they have not dreamed ; the 
groups at the fountains, the staid ancients smoking 
solemnly at the doors, the closed windows with the 
wooden lattices, through which sometimes comes a 
sound of soft music, the tramp of armed men, the 
clatter of cavalry as they trot up the street, the endless 
processions of donkeys and draught horses, and some- 
times camels, — these sights and sounds are, in the sun- 
light by the old walls, in the narrow streets, or by the 
great domed mosques, never to be forgotten or to be 
rivalled in Europe to-day. 

Constantinople remains, with all its changes, a 
city of the dark ages. At any moment the cur- 
tain may be lifted on a scene of tragic horror, and 
meanwhile there is the grotesque mimicry of Western 
civilisation, the parade of meaningless forms, justice, 
government, finance, which in a moment may be 
destroyed, which never have, it is hardly an exaggera- 
tion to say, any real meaning. How does the city fare ? 
Even now, interviews with officials, walks through 

Constantinople under the Turks 

the streets of Stambul, the sights of each day, remind 
one irresistibly of " a chapter in Gibbon or some tale 
of wonder in the Arabian Nights." Soberly and 
solemnly the Turks go about their business. Before 
the horrors of the last decade an observer who knew 
well the people and the history wrote these words. 

'* I have been present in the city during the de- 
position of two Sultans. The most striking character- 
istic in the circumstances attending these depositions 
was the utter indifference of the great body of the 
native, and especially of the Moslem, population to the 
change which was being made. There was a small 
but active party which took action, but beyond this 
there was comparatively very little excitement ; no re- 
sistance, no rioting, no expression of dissatisfaction. 
When newspaper correspondents and foreigners gener- 
ally were aware that a revolution was in preparation, it 
is impossible to believe that thousands of Turks and 
rayahs were in ignorance of the fact. The general 
feeling among the Sultan's subjects was one of in- 
difference. If the conspirators failed it would go 
hardly with them. If they succeeded it would go 
hardly with the Sultan. That business only regarded 
the parties concerned. Beyond a vague belief that 
any change could hardly be followed by a worse con- 
dition of things than had existed, there was no public 
sentiment on the matter." ^ 

The words would be as true to-day. Save only at 
moments of sudden and fanatic excitement, organised 
there can be no doubt at least under the impression 
that there is a religious duty, and a command which 
may not be disobeyed, the calm of the city is un- 
broken. We seem to be standing with Candide when 
he heard the news that ** two viziers of the bench and 
the mufti had just been strangled at Constantinople, 

1 Pears, Conquest of Constantinople. 


The Story of Constantinople 

and several of their friends impaled/* and when he 
heard the instructive comments of the old Turk who 
never knew the name of any vizier or mufti. " I 
presume/* said that sage, " that in general such as are 
concerned in public affairs come to a miserable end, 
and that they deserve it ; but I never enquire what is 
doing at Constantinople. I am content with sending 
thither the produce of my garden, which I cultivate 
with my own hands.** To-day it would seem that 
the people of Constantinople are of the same mind with 
this philosopher. 

So we wrote in 1900; and the picture remained 
true till the great Balkan War, in which all the 
Christian States united against Turkey and brought her 
to her knees. When the war ended, the Bulgarians 
were at the gates ; and it seemed as if a Christian 
power, barbaric still, but strong with the strength of 
youth, would enter into possession. Then the great 
European powers intervened, and decided that Con- 
stantinople and a tract of European land must be left to 
the Turks. A new war broke out among those who had 
been allied against the Mohammedans, and the Turks 
took the opportunity to recover Adrianople. Then 
came a pause, the futile promise of a Constitution, the 
victory of the " Young Turks,'* the deposition of Abdul 
Hanied, the alliance with Germany, the great European 
War. The consequences can hardly be told as yet. 

But this at least may be said : it is idle to prophesy 
the future ot the Ottoman power in Europe. Of all 
people the English are the least fitted to foresee the 
future. Nothing can be more ludicrous than the letters 
of Tom Hughes, an observer acute enough, written 
from Constantinople in 1862, in which he says that 
Islam is all but dead, and that what the Turks want is 
the English public-school system. The Turk hears 
such things with a smile ; il faut cuhiver tintrc janUn. 

The Churches 

THROUGH as it has already been said there Is but 
one church which has survived the Turkish 
conquest without ever ceasing to be used for its divine 
purpose, there are very many buildings in Constantinople 
still remaining, with more or less change, that were 
once hallowed to the worship of the Church of Christ. 

Very many have perished, the most notable among 
them that Church of the Holy Apostles, which was 
destroyed by Mohammed the Conqueror to build the 
great mosque which bears his name. But those which 
still remain were among the chiefest wonders of the 
City of the Emperors, and there is not one of them 
which does not deserve an extensive study. 

The volumes that have been written on Byzan- 
tine architecture cannot be compressed into a few 
pages. It must suffice to recall what are the chief 
characteristics of the style which may still be seen 
in its perfection at Constantinople, as at Salonica. 
The origin of what had so wide an extension 
over the East, of the art which made a new de- 
parture under Constantine, and a still more im- 
portant one under Justinian, is simply the basilica, 
the law court of ancient Rome. A long nave and 
aisles separated by rows of pillars, surmounted by a 
flat roof and ending in an apse : that is the familiar 
type of which a splendid example built under Byzantine 
influence is to be found in the church of S. Apollinare 


The Story of Co7istantinople 





\i»^— —pw^pftwIBI'U.HUll'lir. L.'.\'ll I ' HUH I *' 

cahtals from s. sophia (impost 


Nuovo at Ravenna. To 
this simple design the 
East added the develop- 
ment of the dome. In 
the sixth century the 
domical style decisive- 
ly replaced the basilican ; 
and nowhere can the tran- 
sition be more clearly 
traced than in Constanti- 

We have then, in our 
examination of the still 
remaining specimens ot 
Byzantine art, to observe 
first the basilicas, then the 
combination of basilica 
with dome, then the ex- 
amples of the completed 
domical style. But this 
is by no means all. By- 
zantine art, in the carving 
of capitals, in the creation 
of the impost -capital, in 
its achievement of " teach- 
ing the column to support 
the arch,'* in sculpture, 
in bronze work, in the 
detail of inscriptions, and 
above all, in mosaic, is 
worth the most attentive 
study, and happily in 
spite of time, war and 
barbarism, Constantinople 
still furnishes a fruitful 
field for the student. 

The Churches 

Of the basilicas which existed before the time of 
Justinian, there are two impressive examples remaining. 
The first is the church of S. John Baptist, once 
attached to the monastery called the Studium. It was 
originally built in 463, and was attached to the 
monastery founded by one of the early emigrants 
from the old Rome, Studius. This monastery became 
the most important centre of the Akoimetai, the 
"sleepless ones," an order which kept up perpetual 
intercession for the sins of the world, and whose 
importance from the fifth century to the time of the 
Latin Conquest was very great. ^ It was in this 
church that many of the icons were preserved during 
the first fury of iconoclasm : in the monastery, Isaac 
Comnenus and Michael VII. assumed the monastic 

The church has undergone several restorations, but 
is now in a ruinous state. It was turned into a mosque 
under Bayezid II. — it is called Mir Achor Djami — 
but its structural arrangements have not been altered. 
It is a basilica with two aisles and apse, narthex and 
atrium. On each side the aisles are divided from the 
nave by seven pillars : the capitals are Corinthian, 
the work below Byzantine. The design on the 
capitals is that of the double acanthus, " one leaf 
lying over and within another." Outside in the 
atrium the columns are Corinthian, and so also below 
in the great crypt or cistern. The door of the 
narthex is inserted between the two columns. Of 
the many memorials that the church once contained 
only one may now be seen. In a wall marking a 
small enclosure behind the apse, at the north-east, is 
a tombstone upside down on which may be traced 

1 See especially " Les Debuts du Monachisme a Constanti- 
nople" (Pargoire) in Revue det queit'mnt historiquet, Jan. 1899 
PP- »33. ^77- 


The Story of CojistanthiopU 

the Greek inscription to the memory of Dionysios, 
a Russian monk, who fell asleep on September 6, 


Beautiful in its ruin, with the creepers hiding 

many of the great gaps in the Western entrance, the 

church of S. John Baptist does not differ essentially 

from the common Western type of basilica. The 

galleries (now without floors) mark, it has been said, 

the advent of organised monasticism earlier than in 


the West ; but there is, save for some of the work 
on the pillars, nothing of an especially Byzantine style 
about the church. It seems certain to perish in a 
few years if nothing is done. Meanwhile it should be 
visited by every student of history or art. 

S. Irene, now within the grounds of the Seraglio, is 
of more importance. It owes its original foundation 
to Constantine, but it suffered severely in the Nika 
riot and was rebuilt by Justinian in 532. It was 
again rebuilt in 740. Little if anything has been 
done to it since the Turkish Conquest, and It may be 


The Churches 

taken as certain that its original structure remains 
practically unaltered. For the historical interest of 
its contents as well as for its architectural importance, 
it is well worth a visit ; but it is rarely that permission 
is accorded to view it,^ It has been used since the 
Turkish Conquest as an armoury, and an irade from 
the Sultan himself is necessary to authorise the Minister 
of Ordnance to permit any one to see it. 

Its form is basilican, a nave with two aisles and 
an apse. The dome rests upon a drum lighted by 
twenty windows. It is probable that this was built 
by Justinian. In the apse is a characteristic feature 
which shows what must have been the arrangement 
at S. Sophia. There are five rows of seats for tiie 
clergy, facing west — an unusual number of seats I 
think, for at Ravenna there is but one row. Under 
the seats there is a passage round the apse. 

There were originally a narthex and an atrium. The 
narthex seems to have been thrown into the church, as 
is shown by the heavy pier supporting the gallery, with 
its counterpart in the outer walls ending abruptly at 
the wall plate. It seems probable that this was done in 
order to make room for the second dome, the original 
structure being that of the ordinary Roman basilica. 
The atrium seems to have undergone many changes : 
possibly it is entirely of Mohammedan work, as it has 
pointed arches. The interior of the church is solemn 
and impressive, an effect due to the great dignity of 
the general lines. Originally no doubt the walls and 
domes were covered with mosaics. Part of the apse 
still bears its decoration uncovered with the wash 
which is over all the rest of the surface. A gigantic 
cross of black tesserae stretches up the vault, and large 

1 In 1896 and 1899 application was made on my behalf by 
the British Ambassador ; on the last occasion the Sultan 
granted an irade. 


The Story of Constantinople 

inscriptions remain over the arch. The apse is lighted 
by three great windows, a feature never seen in Roman 
basiHcas till much later. The columns which support 
the galleries are plain, the arch resting on simple un- 
carved blocks. It may be seen, even from this brief 
description, how interesting the church is as a re- 
presentation in Constantinople of the style brought to 
the East by the Christian architects of the Empire, 
and exposed to many foreign influences, but as yet 
showing no important signs of departure from the 
original type. 

But the church is interesting not only architecturally, 
but historically. It has never been used for the 
worship of Islam. It could be restored in a few 
hours to the worship of the Christian Church. Its 
incongruous contents, too, have an interest. There 
are weapons of the Crusaders, chainmail, great swords ; 
the curious machines of Alexius Comnenus ; keys of 
conquered cities, bags of earth in token of conquest. 
There are five fine bells, two with dates 1600 and 1658, 
one dedicated ** Vero Deo Patri Filio Spiritui Sancto." 
There are swords of the Janissaries, and their curiously 
shaped helmets, and their famous kettle drums, differ- 
ing in size according to the number of companies that 
were assembled. Most interesting of all, perhaps, are 
the fragments of the great chain which stretched across 
the Golden Horn. In the court are two fine sarco- 
phagi, which are called those of Constantme and Irene. 

These two examples of the basilican style are clear 
and distinct. There are other churches which have 
basilican features, but do not belong to the period 
before Justinian, and are worthy of detailed exam- 
ination. S. Thekla stands back from the walls on 
the Golden Horn not far from the gate now called 
Aivan Serai Kapoussi, which was once the Porta 
Kiliomene. The foundation of this is not earlier than 

3 ^OpKiA 


if :.■ M -Vl 

55. 5er<3'Juy 
A and BaccKu/ 



.Jff Bapit.stery-. 

Great ahd Littuk 2 %ov\\\f\. 

Flam or*.'^. ^i^roi/io aho RAccna^. 


'the Churches 

the ninth century, and Anna Comnena mentions its 
restoration in the eleventh. It is a curious survival of an 
early style, for it has no dome, and is simply a basilica 
about forty feet long and twenty broad, with an apse. 
It was gaily restored a few years ago, and bears as a 
mosque the name of Toklou Ibrahim Dedeh Mesjid. 

S. Theodore Tyrone (Killise Djami) stands not 
far to the west of the mosque of Suleiman. It was 
built about 450, but much of the present building is of 
the twelfth century. It is not improbable that in its 
chief features it may be older than any church in 
Constantinople. The central dome has ten arches, 
perhaps originally windows, now closed. All the 
domes are small, and the columns are without orna- 
ment. There are narthex and exo-narthex, and in the 
latter is a mysterious opening, full of stones and frag- 
ments of mortar, leading, it is said, to a long passage 
which the Turks fancy once led to S. Sophia. 

But more interesting than either of these is that 
unique building which the Turks have happily named 
** Kutchuk Aya Sofia," little S. Sophia, the Church 
of S. Sergius and S. Bacchus.^ It stands not far 
from Koum Kapoussi in the Marmora Walls, and 
quite close to the railway. Originally it was con- 
nected with the Church of S. Peter and S. Paul. 
Procopius describes the churches as standing obliquely 
towards each other, " joined together, and vieing one 
with another. They have," he says, " a common en- 
trance, are equal to one another in all respects, are 
surrounded by a boundary wall, and neither of them 
exceeds the other or falls short of it, either in beauty, 
size, or any other respect ; for each alike reflects the 
rays of the sun from its polished marble, and is alike 
covered with rich gold and adorned with offerings. 

* This can be reached from the Hippodrome by a road going 
southwards, and easy to find. 

The Story of Constantinople 

In one respect alone they differ, that the one is built 
longitudinally, whereas the columns of the other for 
the most part stand in a semi-circle. The portico at 
their entrance is common to both, and from its great 
length is called narthex {t.e, a reed). The whole 
propylea, the atrium, and the doors from the atrium, 
and the entrance to the palace, are common to both." 
A door now closed at the south of the narthex shows 
where was the entrance to the Church of S. Peter and 
S. Paul. S. Sergius and S. Bacchus has happily 
suffered but little. It has, as has been said, a struc- 
tural narthex. The atrium can still be traced in the 
arrangement of the Turkish houses and garden separated 
now from the church by a narrow pathway. 

The Church of S. Sergius and S. Bacchus is a 
square with a dome. Columned exedras fill out the 
angles of the square under the domed vaults, and the 
piers supporting the dome form an octagon. A small 
apse is added at the east end. The ground plan of 
the church almost exactly repeats that of S. Vitale at 
Ravenna, which was probably begun a year before its 
companion in Constantinople. The resemblance is 
most marked in the six windows of the apse, the 
galleries and the columns on which they rest. The 
details also of the work closely resemble each other. 
We have the simplest form of the impost capital and 
the eight-lobed melon-formed capital. Vine-leaves 
form part of the decoration of some of the capitals and 
of the frieze : some say that this is a fanciful allusion 
to the associations of the name of one of the saints to 
whom the church is dedicated. Many crosses are cut 
in the marble of the west gallery ; and on the south 
side over the imperial entrance from the palace are the 
monograms of Justinian and Theodora. 

Justinian built the Church in 527, and dedicated 
it to the soldier saints who were martyred under 

The Churches 

Maximianus, to commemorate his preservation when 
he was charged with treason during the reign of 
Anastasius. An inscription commemorates the Em- 
peror and his wife Theodora, "the divinely crowned " 
and "enlightened by piety." Its historic associations 
are interesting. It was there that representatives 
of the Latin Church on a visit to Constantinople 
were generally allowed to worship according to their 
own rite. It is probable that Gregory the Great, 
who was so long the Papal representative at the 
Byzantine court, often said mass there. It suffered 
severely during the Latin conquest, and it was re- 
paired by Michael VIII. 

Interesting, and in spite of whitewash and colouring, 
even beautiful in itself, it is important architecturally 
as illustrating the process which developed the design 
of S. Irene into that of S. Sophia. Closely re- 
sembling S. Vitale at Ravenna, it is yet, in Httle, 
a very distinct anticipation of the great church of 
the Divine Wisdom of which we have now to speak. 

Something has been said already (above, pp. 35-39) 
of the historic circumstances under which this, " the 
fairest church in all the world," as our Sir John 
Mandeville hath it, was built. Hardly a month after 
the burning of the first church of the Divine Wisdom 
in 532, the new building was begun. On S. Stephen's 
Day 537, it was consecrated. In 558 much of it 
was seriously damaged by an earthquake, the eastern 
part of the dome, with the apse, being thrown down, 
"destroying in its fall the holy table, the ciborium, 
and the ambo." At their restoration, the dome was 
raised twenty feet. 

From the first, it was recognised as the greatest 
work that had ever been completed by architects. 
Not only the eulogists of Justinian, but every chron- 
icler of the age, and for some centuries after, bear 

Q 241 

The Story of Cofistantinople 

testimony to the fascination which its splendour and 
dignity exercised upon the imagination of beholders. 
It was the great outward expression of the power of 
a world-empire consecrated to the religion of Christ. 
It was the symbol of the offering of all beautiful 
things, all art, now conquered from the corruptions 
of paganism, all riches, all human skill and thought, 
to God the Creator. The Divine Wisdom which 
made the world and designed all things so great 
and so fair, was to hallov/ all, now that man offered 
them up in continual sacrifice to God from Whom 
alone their use and blessing came. S. Sophia^s was 
the highest outward expression which man had given 
to the idea of God's omnipotence and omnipresence, 
and to the absolute dependence of man upon the 
Divine ordering of life. " Anima naturaliter Christ- 
iana " was the noble saying of Tertullian. The Church 
of S. Sophia was the expression of that thought by 
the genius of Anthemius of Tralles under the direction 
of Justinian, Cassar and Augustus. 

We can hardly see the great church better than 
with the words of Procopius, the first to describe 
it, before us. 

In his " Aedificia," a glorification perhaps too glorious 
of the great Emperor's wisdom in his buildings, the 
strange historian, half soldier, half philosopher, who 
followed the greatest captain of the age in his cam- 
paigns, who lived in the close presence of the splendid 
works which made the men of the sixth century 
famous in the history of the world, and yet had a mind 
utterly sceptical as to real goodness, entirely credulous 
of evil, perhaps for once threw aside his sardonic 
humour when he wrote of the great church. Here 
at least, in all those high-wrought pages, he is sincere. 

Justinian, he says, is highly to be regarded for his 
wisdom and his good fortune that he found architects 

Ihc Churches 

ar.d workmen so skilful, and was **able to choose the 
most suitable of mankind to execute the noblest of 
his works." 

It was this, he says, which caused the matchless 
achievement. Cost was not spared, workmen were 
brought from every land. 

"The church 1 consequently presents a most glorious 
spectacle, extraordinary to those who behold it, and 
altogether incredible to those who are told of it. In 
height it rises to the very heavens, and overtops the 
neighbouring buildings like a ship anchored among 
them, appearing above the rest of the city, which it 
adorns and forms a part of it. One of its beauties is 
that being a part of and growing out of the city, it 
rises so high that the whole city can be seen as from 
a watch-tower. The length and breadth arc so 
judiciously arranged that it appears to be both long 
and wide without being disproportionate. 

•♦ It is distinguished by indescribable beauty, excel- 
ling both in its size, and in the harmony of its measures, 
having no part excessive and none deficient ; being 
more magnificent than ordinary buildings, and much 
more elegant than those which arc not of so just a 
proportion. The church is singularly full of light and 
sunshine ; you would declare that the place is not 
lighted by the sun from without, but that the rays are 
produced within itself, such an abundance of light is 

^ AtJif. I. I. — The translation here used is that of Mr 
Aubrey Stewart, published by the Palestine Pilgrims' Text 
Society, with alterations by the late Mr Harold Swainson, as 
published in the admirable work of Mr W. R. Lethaby and 
himself, Sancta Sophia, Ccnslantinople, a Slurij/ of Byzantine 
Building, 1894 ('PP- 24-29"). Messrs I.ethaby and Swainson 
insert explanatory divisions of the description, thus ^The Apse,^ 
etc. I have inserted the Greek words where they have trans- 
literated them, and made an occasional slight alteration. The 
▼alue of Messrs Lethaby and Swainson's work as an archi- 
tectural translation is great, 


The Story ojCoiutantlnoplc 

poured into this church. The /ipse. — Now the head 
(•rpoffM-rov) of the church (that is to say the part 
towards the rising sun, where the sacred mysteries are 
performed in honour of God) is built as follows. The 
building rises from the ground not in a straight line, 
but setting back somewhat obliquely, it retreats in the 
middle into a rounded form which those who arc 
learned in these matters call semi-cylindrical, rising 
perpendicularly, j^psoid and Semidome. — The upper 
part of this work ends in the fourth part of a sphere, 
and above it another crescent-shaped (/z,?jvo£/5l$) 
structure is raised upon the adjacent parts of the 
building, admirable for its beauty, but causing terror 
by the apparent weakness of its construction ; for it 
appears not to rest upon a secure foundation, but to 
hang dangerously over the heads of those below, 
although it is really supported with especial firmness 
and safety. Exedras, — On each side of these parts 
are columns standing upon the floor, which are not 
placed in a straight line, but arranged with an inward 
curve of semicircular shape, one beyond another like 
the dancers in a chorus. These columns support 
above them a crescent-shaped structure. Opposite the 
east wall is built another wall, containing the entrances, 
and upon either side of it also stand columns, with 
stonework above them, in a half-circle exactly like 
those previously described. Great Piers and Arches. 
— In the midst of the church are four masses of stone 
called piers {^'iaeoxjc) ^ two on the north and two on 
the south sides, opposite and alike, having four columns 
in the space between each pair. These piers are 
formed of large stones fitted together, the stones being 
carefully selected, and cleverly jointed into one another 
by the masons, and reaching to a great height. Look- 
ing at them, you would compare them to perpendicular 
cliffs. Upon them, four arches (a-^z/i^E;) arise over a 

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The Churches 

quadrilateral space. The extremities of these arches 
join one another in pairs, their ends resting upon the 
piers, while the other parts of them rise to a great 
height, suspended in the air. Two of these arches, 
that is those towards the rising and the setting of the 
sun, are constructed over the empty air, but the others 
have under them some stonework and small columns. 
Dome and Pendentives. — Now above these arches is 
raised a circular building of a curved form through 
which the light of day first shines ; for the build- 
ing, which I imagine overtops the whole country, 
has small openings left on purpose, so that the places 
where these intervals occur may serve for the light to 
come through. Thus far I imagine the building is not 
incapable of being described, even by a weak and 
feeble tongue. As the arches are arranged in quad- 
rangular figure, the stonework between them takes the 
shape of a triangle, the lower angle of each triangle, 
being compressed where the arches unite, is slender, 
while the upper part becomes wider as it rises in the 
space between them, and ends against the circle which 
rests upon them, forming there its remaining angles. 
A spherical-shaped dome (^o?^©?) standing upon this 
circle makes it exceedingly beautiful ; from the light- 
ness of the building, it does not appear to rest upon a 
solid foundation, but to cover the place beneath as 
though it were suspended from heaven by the fabled 
golden chain. All these parts surprisingly joined to 
one another in the air, suspended one from another, 
and resting only on that which is next to them, form 
the work into one admirably harmonious whole, which 
spectators do not dwell upon for long in the mass, as 
each individual part attracts the eye to itself. The 
sight causes men constantly to change their point of 
view, and the spectator can nowhere point to any part 
which he admires more than the rest. Seeing the art 


The Story of Constantinople 

which appears everywhere, men contract their eye- 
brows as they look at each part, and are unable to 
comprehend such workmanship, but always depart 
thence, stupefied, through their incapacity. So much 
for this. 

" The Emperor Justinian and the architects 
Anthemius and Isidorus used many devices to con- 
struct so lofty a church with security. One of these 
I will now explain, by which a man may form some 
opinion of the strength of the whole work ; as for the 
others I am not able to discover them all, and find 
it impossible to describe them in words. It is as 
follows : The piers, of which I just now spoke, are 
not constructed in the same manner as the rest of the 
building, but in this fashion ; they consist of quad- 
rangular courses of stone, rough by nature, and made 
smooth by art ; of these stones, those which make 
the projecting angles of the pier are cut angularly 
{^lyyuiviuv), while those which go in the middle parts 
of the sides are cut square [b rirpairXiuptjj). 

"They are fastened together not with lime [T'lTavoi)^ 
called * unslaked * [affl3s(rTov)y not with ashphaltum, 
the boast of Semiramis at Babylon, nor anything of 
the kind, but with lead, which, poured into the in- 
terstices, has sunk into the joints of the stones, and 
binds them together ; this is how they are built. 

" Let us now proceed to describe the remaining 
parts of the church. The entire ceiling is covered 
with pure gold, which adds to its glory, though the 
reflections of the gold upon the marble surpass it in 
beauty. There are two aisles one above another on 
each side, which do not in any way lessen the size of 
the church, but add to its width. In length they reach 
quite to the ends of the building, but in height they 
fail short of it ; these also have domed ceilings adorned 
with gold. Of these two porticoes one (ground floor) 

T^he Churches 

is set apart for male and the other (upper floor) for 
female worshippers ; there is no variety in them, nor 
do they differ in any respect from one another, but 
their very equality and similarity add to the beauty of 
the church. Who could describe these gynaeceum 
galleries, or the numerous porticoes (croa;) and clois- 
tered courts (^'ztpiSToXoug wjXdg) with which the 
church is surrounded ? Who could tell of the beauty 
of the columns and marbles with which the church is 
adorned ? One would think that one had come upon 
a meadow full of flowers in bloom ! Who would 
not admire the purple tints of some and the green 
of others, the glowing red and the glittering white, 
and those too, which nature, painter-like, has marked 
with the strongest contrasts of colour ? Whoever 
enters there to worship perceives at once that it is not 
by any human strength or skill, but by favour of God, 
that this work has been perfected ; the mind rises 
sublime to commune with God, feeling that He cannot 
be far off, but must especially love to dwell in the place 
which He has chosen ; and this is felt not only when 
a man sees it for the first time, but it always makes the 
same impression upon him, as though he had never 
beheld it before. No one ever became weary of this 
spectacle, but those who are in the church delight in 
what they see, and, when they leave, magnify it in 
their talk. Moreover, it is impossible accurately to 
describe the gold and silver and gems presented by the 
Emperor Justinian ; but by the description of one 
part, I leave the rest to be inferred. That part of the 
church which is especially sacred, and where the 
priests alone are allowed to enter, which is called the 
sanctuary (^drjeiasrripioy)^ contains forty thousand pounds* 
weight of silver. 

** The above is an account, written in the most 
abridged and cursory manner, describing in the fewest 


The Story of Cottsta?itinople 

possible words the most admirable structure of the 
church at Constantinople, which is called the Great 
Church, built by the Emperor Justinian, who did not 
merely supply the funds for it but assisted at its build- 
ing by the labour and powers of his mind, as I will 
now explain. Of the two arches [tuj'j a.-^ibcf)v) which 
I lately mentioned — the architects {^fjL7i-)(a\o-otQi) call 
them loroi — that one which stands towards the east 
had been built up on each side, but had not altogether 
been completed in the middle, where it was still im- 
perfect ; when the piers (<T60'(ro/) upon which the 
building rested, unable to support the weight which 
was put upon them, somehow all at once split open, 
and seemed as though before long they would fall to 
pieces. Upon this, Anthemius and Isidorus, terrified 
at what had taken place, referred the matter to the 
Emperor, losing all confidence in their own skill. He 
at once, I know not by what impulse, but probably 
inspired by Heaven, for he is not an architect, ordered 
them to complete this arch ; for it, said he, resting 
upon itself will no longer need the piers below (r'^v 
hiphv TTsffffuv). Now if this story were unsupported 
by witnesses, I am well assured that it would seem to 
be written in order to flatter, and would be quite 
incredible ; but as there are many witnesses now alive 
of what then took place I shall not hesitate to finish it. 
The workmen performed his bidding, the arch was 
safely suspended, and proved by experiment the truth 
of his conception. So much then for this part of the 
building ; now with regard to the other arches, those 
looking to the south and to the north, the following 
incidents took place. When the (arches) called loroi 
(^Xupoi) were raised aloft during the building of the 
church everything below them laboured under their 
weight, and the columns which are placed there shed 
little scales, as though they had been planed. 

Ibe Churches 

" Alarmed at this, the architects (//.>3;^av/xo/) again 
referred the matter to the Emperor, who devised the 
following scheme. He ordered the upper part of the 
work that was giving way to be taken down where it 
touched the arches for the present, and to be replaced 
afterwards when the damp had thoroughly left the 
fabric. This was done, and the building has stood 
safely ever since, so that the structure, as it were, bears 
witness to the Emperor's skill." 

The description of Procopius is for us no mere 
antiquarian record. It is still a guide which may 
direct us what to look for and how to explain what we 
see. S. Sophia is unique in the fact of its survival in 
continued use, and in its preservation from the horrors 
of " restoration," which have robbed us, all over the 
civilised world, of the true work of the greatest 
Christian architects. The Turks, it must be honestly 
said, deserve the thanks of Europe for their preserva- 
tion of their greatest work of sacred art. In 1847 
Abdul Mejid undertook the reparation of the damage 
done by time. He employed the Italian architect 
Fossali, who was probably the first to do any im- 
portant work at the main part of the building since the 
time of John VI. Palasologus. The work on the 
whole was well done ; and it is plain that it must have 
been absolutely necessary. The wonder is that his 
work was so conservative as it was. It is impossible 
not to echo the gratitude of the experts that " far 
from being a ruin, the church is one of the best pre- 
served of so ancient monuments, and in regard to its 
treatment by the Turks we can only be grateful that 
S. Sophia has not been situated in the more learned 
cities of Europe, such as Rome, Aachen, or Oxford, 
during * the period of revived interest in ecclesiastical 
antiquities.* " 

Evagrius, who may also be regarded as practically 


The Story of Constantinople 

a contemporary of the original building, has also 
left a description which is worth quoting, of this 
*' great and incomparable work, hitherto unparalleled 
in history, the Church's greatest temple, fair and 
surpassing, and beyond the power of words to de- 
scribe." 1 

"The nave," he says, "of the temple is a dome, 
lifted on four arches, and rising to so great a height 
that from below it is difficult for the observers to 
reach with their eyes the apex of the hemisphere ; 
while from above none who might get there, howso- 
ever hardy he might be, would for a moment attempt 
to lean over and cast his eyes to the bottom. And 
the arches spring clear from the floor up to the 
covering which forms the roof; and on the right 
and left columns, wrought of Thessalian stone, are 
ranged with [i»e. are in line with) the piers of the 
arches and support upper chambers [enclosed] with 
other similar columns, so enabling them that wish to 
lean forward and see the rites that are being per- 
formed : and it is here that the Empress also when 
she is present on the festivals assists at the celebration 
of the mysteries. But the arches to the east and the 
west are left clear without anything to intercept the 
marvellous impression of the huge dimensions. And 
there are colonnades under the upper chambers already 
mentioned, finishing off the vast structure with small 
columns and arches." It may be noted here that the 
figures that Evagrius gives are inaccurate. The 
church is 250 feet long from east to west, not in- 
cluding the narthex or the apse; and it is 235 feet 

These descriptions are in comparatively sober prose ; 
but besides them we have the ecstatic eloquence of 

1 Evagrius, Hitt. Eccl., iv. 31. 



The Churches 

Paul the Silcntiary, a court official of highest rank, 
whose poem was probably recited in 563. This is 
perhaps the most exact of all the descriptions, but it is 
far too long for transcription.^ 

A passage, which certainly loses nothing of its 
poetry in Mr Swainson's flowing translation, is of 
especial interest for its description of the marble which 
formed the great glory of the church, next at least to 
the mosaics, if not surpassing them. 

*' Yet who, even in the measures of Homer, shall 
sing the marble pastures gathered on the lofty walls 
and spreading pavement of the mighty church? These 
the iron with its metal tooth has gnawed — the fresh 
green from Carystus, and many-coloured marble from 
the Phrygian range, in which a rosy blush mingles 
with white, or it shines bright with flowers of deep 
red and silver. There is a wealth of porphyry too, 
powdered with bright stars, that has once laden the 
river boat on the broad Nile. You would see an 
emerald green from Sparta, and the glittering marble 
with wavy veins, which the tool has worked in the 
deep bosom of the lassian hills, showing slanting 
streaks blood-red and livid white. From the Lydian 
creek came the bright stone mingled with streaks of 
red. Stone too there is that the Lybian sun, warming 
with his golden light, has nurtured in the deep- 
bosomed clefts of the hills of the Moors, of crocus 
colour glittering like gold ; and the product of the 
Celtic crags, a wealth of crystals, like milk poured 
here and there on a flesh of glittering black. There 
is the precious onyx, as if gold were shining through 
it ; and the marble that the land of Atrax yields, not 
from some upland glen, but from the level plains ; in 
parts fresh green as the sea or emerald stone, or again 

^ It may be read in Migne's Patrologia Grseca, Ixxxvi. (x), 
and in the translation in Messrs Lethaby and Swainson's book. 


The Story of Constantinople 

like blue corn-flowers in grass, with here and there 
a drift of fallen snow, — a sweet mingled contrast on 
the dark shining surface." ^ 

I think ancient words such as these speak best of 
this ancient church. Yet something must be added 
of what we see with modern eyes. S. Sophia 
strikes the modern at once as unlike the domical 
churches with which he is familiar. The dome in 
S. Sophia is the one essential feature of the whole 
building. Every thing leads to it or from it : every 
thing is subordinate to it. The effect of immense 
space is conveyed by this subordination, very different 
from the Western use where the dome is merely part 
of the general design, usually at the centre of a cruci- 
form building. 

The problem which Anthemius of Tralles set him- 
self to solve was that of " uniting the longitudinal 
with the central building '' ; to this is added " the 
appropriate disposition of space, the grouping of 
subsidiary chambers and the costliness of mosaic 
splendours." ^ 

Originally the church was approached at the west 
through an atrium, an outer narthex and a narthex. 
The atrium cannot now be traced : the exo-narthex 
and narthex still remain, but it seems probable that 
the former is not now as it was originally built. The 
walls and' ceiling of the exo-narthex are quite plain. 
Five doors give entrance into the much larger narthex, 
the walls of which are covered with marble, and the 
ceiling has mosaics which have been but little touched. 

The Christian must enter the church by the north 
porch, which leads down a flight of steps into the 
narthex. He walks forward till he faces the midst of 
the church, and there over the great central door, the 

* Quoted from Lethaby and Swainson, p. 45. 
2 Kraus, Geschkhlc der christl'uhcn Kunst^ 1. 361, 362. 

The Churches 

largest of the nine which open eastwards from the 
narthex into the nave, the mosaic can still be traced, 
for the paint is almost worn off. It shows our Lord 
on His throne with the gospel in His hand, open at 
the words **1 am the Light of the World.'' An 
Emperor kneels at His 

feet. It is the Imperial ).( a il;.^ vl i.U' 

door- way, and by it the 
sovereign always entered 
the church. Immediate- 
ly above the door and 
below the mosaic, is a 
brass lintel on which may 
be clearly read the text 
of the book represented 
open upon a throne with 
a dove spreading its 
wings above. '* The 
Lord said, I am the 
door of the sheep : by 
Me if any man enter 
in, he shall be saved 
and shall go in and out 
and find pasture." A 
heavy curtain falls over 

the doorway. It is Translation of Inscription : 

moved ^ aside and we uxhe Lord said, «I am the door 
Stand in a space that of the sheep : by Me if any man 
seems enormous. The ^^^^"^ i" ^^^ shall go in and out and 
eye looks forward to " ^^^ "^^' 
find itself carried upward to the great dome. The 
great arches on the floor support the smaller arches 
of the galleries, which extend north, south and 
west. From these again the eye is carried to the 
smaller semi-domes, thence to the great semi-domes 
east and west, and so to the great dome which 

R 257 




The Story ofConstanthiople 

is the centre of all. The scheme seems at once a- 
mazingly intricate and exceedingly simple. There is 
an infinity of detail, but it is never irrelevant to the 
main idea, and in an extraordinary manner the feeling 
of unity is dominant at every point. It is impossible 
to rest content with any part : the architect compels 
you to see the part only in its relation to the whole. 
How should S. Sophia be seen ? Every one will 
have his own preference. Perhaps it is best first to 
take the great impression that you obtain as you look 
eastward, and then to go slowly round the aisles, look- 
ing again and again towards the centre. The wonder- 
ful columns supporting the galleries, four of dark green 
marble which came from Ephesus — it may be from the 
temple of Artemis — eight of dark red porphyry which 
came from the Temple of the Sun at Baalbek and were 
given by a Roman lady, Marcia, to Justinian "for the 
safety of her soul " — have a magnificent air of strength 
as well as splendour. Then the details begin to attract 
the eye, the brass bases to the columns, the capitals 
elaborately carved with designs most beautiful and deli- 
cate, the monograms, still undefaced, of Justinian and 
Theodora. Here the elaboration, the extraordinary 
wealth of detail, on the minute examination of which 
hours may be spent delightedly, the endless variety of 
the finest work, enchains the attention. For the 
moment you forget the splendour of the whole in the 
beauty of the details. But at every point, as you look 
up from the carving of capitals, or the inscriptions (as 
on the bronze doors of the narthex, whose Christian 
emblems may still clearly be traced), you are brought 
again to the central thought. It is a great church 
for worship. From every side, from aisles and 
galleries as from all the length of the great nave, the 
eye would turn in the old days towards the icono- 
stasis, and to the magnificent anibo, of which writers 



The Churches 

from the contemporaries of Justinian to the latest 
Christian pilgrims speak in such glowing words. As 
a Christian church, S. Sophia must have been unsur- 
passed in its power to solemnise the worshipper. 

The brightness of the great church, when all the 
splendid lamps made the mosaics glitter as the heavens 
with stars, finds record again and again in poem and 
history. That glory is departed, though when the 
thousands of lamps are lighted on the nights of Rama- 
zan (the twenty-eight days fast), something of what it 
must have been may perhaps be guessed. The mosaics 
arc covered, not everywhere indeed, but over a great 
part of the vast space, with paint and whitewash. The 
head of Christ may be dimly traced over the sanctuary. 
The four gigantic seraphs on the pendentives remain as 
of old, save that their faces are painted over. 

Next to the decoration the point of chiefest interest 
18 the mass of historical memorials that may here and 
there be discovered. In the south gallery the Second 
Council of Constantinople, the sixth General Council of 
the Church, was held. The " place of the most noble 
lady Theodora" may still be seen in the north gallery. 
A slab now let into the floor of the south gallery has 
the words " Henricus Dandolo." It once rested over 
the body of the blind Doge who stormed the city in 
1 204. The ciphers and monograms are worth attentive 
study.^ The curious water-vessel at the north-west 
may have stood in the church in the Christian days. 
But the multiplication of instances would be endless. 
Anyone who wants really to know S. Sophia, must 
have with him the noble book of Mr Lethaby and Mr 

The outside of S. Sophia is comparatively unin- 
teresting, and is impressive only for the vast size. Seen 
from the corner of the street leading to the ** Burnt 
* See Lethaby and Swainson, pp. 21 and sqq. 


7 he Story of Constantinople 

Column," its Immense extent, and the height of the 
great dome, dwarf every other building within sight. 
Seen again from the Bosphorus at the entrance to the 
Golden Horn, or as a vessel sails up the Marmora, 
it stands, as the old writers said of it, dominating the 
city. But closer it is almost ugly, and the stripes of 
red paint with which Fossati bedecked it do not add 
to its attraction. 

•a , \ 
■ I I 


Round the great church are some smaller buildings 
which should not be forgotten. « Every evidence of 
the atrium has entirely disappeared": it was finally 
destroyed in 1873. ^' ^^^ ^°^^^ ^^^^ ^^^ ^^^'^ tiirbehs, 
four of which are of Turkish building, those of Sultans 
Selim II., Murad III., each with his children, 
Mohammed III., and the sons of Murad III. Among 
these that of Selim II. is notable for the beautiful 

The Churches 

tiles at the doorv/ay. At the south-west is Justinian's 
baptistery, now the tiirbeh of Mustafa I. (1622). It 
is a rectangle externally, but within, an octagon with 
a low dome, covered with twelfth-century mosaics, 
which, when I saw it in 1 896, were being covered 
anew with paint. At the north-east of the church is 
a circular building which may very probably be the 
earlier baptistery, built by Constantine.i 

Throughout I have spoken of S. Sophia as a church. 
Such indeed to the Christian eye it remains. A few 
hours would restore its fitness for its original purpose. 
The Mihrab, showing the direction of Mecca, the minber, 
or pulpit, the Sultan's seat, the immense shields with 
the names of Mohammed himself and other great 
Moslems, the four minarets, belong, one feels, but to 
transitory things. The dedication of S. Sophia is eternal. 
S. Sophia is the greatest and most splendid example 
of what has been truly called "the last great gift of 
Hellenic genius, mediaeval Greek architecture" — the 
last great work of the Greek people. But it is more. 
It is the most perfect representation that art has ever 
devised in visible outward form of the theology of the 
Christian Church. A multitude of detail, all beauti- 
ful, all important when understood, has its true 
significance solely from its relation to the central 
idea, to the whole which is so much more than the 
parts of which it is composed. " The Catholic faith 
is this, that we worship one God in Trinity, and 
Trinity in Unity," says the magnificent hymn of faith 
which we call the Creed of Saint Athanasius. From 
that central doctrine, that dome of theology, shade off 
other thoughts and facts which have their importance 
in exact proportion to their nearness to the central 
fact. They all contribute to its support ; they are all 
really part of it ; but they can only be seen in their 
1 See Lethaby and Swainson. 


The Story of Constantinople 

real meaning when the one Unifying Truth is seen to be 
over and above them all. 

Is this the narrow view of a Christian priest? Will 
art critics say that S. Sophia means quite other things, 
and draws forth quite other memories ? Not truly, as 
I think. For S. Sophia is certainly a supreme ex- 
pression of Christian faith, and only in relation to that 
faith can it be fully understood. " We worship one 
God *' : S. Sophia expresses that thought, and it 
expresses the myriad reflections of that truth, and how 
that worship is visibly presented. 

To some art critics, and notably to Jesuit writers, 
whose sympathy with the genuine expression of artistic 
ideas has never been profound, S. Sophia seems to 
mark not only the culmination of Byzantine art but .i 
distinct step in its decadence. Supreme indeed it is, 
but it is difficult for any one who knows Constantinople 
to doubt that the work which is at its greatest in S. 
Sophia was continued centuries after Anthemius had 
passed away. The same dignity, and sincerity, and 
splendour, are striven for, and if they are never attained 
it is only because the greatest genius is never repeated. 

There are many later churches which carry us 
back to the vigorous age of Byzantine art. First 
must be placed the (io\i7\ T^g yfipag^ the Church of 
S. Saviour "in the country," now called Kahriyeh 
Djamissi. It stands on an open space of broken 
ground near the gate of Charisius, Edirn^ Kapoussi. 
It is shown to-day, most courteously and sympatheti- 
cally, by an imam with whom it is a pleasure to 
converse. The Christian feels almost at home, though 
the Moslem has long worshipped where for so many 
centuries the Holy Sacrifice was offered. 

The Church of the Chora was rebuilt, or refounded, 
by Justinian. The site had been chosen by Constan- 
tine for a monastery which he erected outside the 

The Churches 

walls, "in the country." When Justinian built it, it 
was within the walls which Theodosius had made. It 
fell into decay, and Maria Dukaina, the mother-in-law 
of Alexius Comnenus, restored it. Finally Theodore 
the Logothete, in 1381, completed the work. Of 
recent years it has been thoroughly repaired. It has 
an inner and an outer narthex, a central church and 
two side chapels. 

No church, save S. Sophia, has more touching 
memories. Crispus, the son-in-law of the Emperor 
Nicephorus Phocas, redecorated it, and found in it his 
resting-place as a monk. Patriarchs have retired there. 
Theodore, who beautified it, had to seek refuge there 
when Andronicus II. was deposed, and he ended his 
days as a monk within its walls. Under the sovereigns of 
the twelfth and thirteenth centuries it was famous. Near 
to the palace of Blachernae the Emperors often wor- 
shipped there. It kept for part of the year the sacred 
picture of the Blessed Virgin which was believed to 
have been the work of S. Luke, and was there yearly 
shown on Easter Monday for the veneration of the 
people. When the Turks broke in, the Janissaries 
seized the picture and cut it into fragments, for charms. 
The church was turned into a mosque very soon after 
the conquest. Petrus G3dHus rediscovered it, for it 
seems soon to have had its history forgotten ; and he 
noted the beauty of the capitals. 

Architecturally the complication of the style, the 
many independent domes, and the practical separation 
of the chapels from the central church, illustrate the 
development of Byzantine architecture in its later 
stages. In detail the beautiful acanthus carved in white 
marble and carved right through is noticeable. There 
are also the fragments of a splendid door, now used as 
jamb linings, the panels of which were originally filled 
with sculpture. The Church of the Chora as we now 


The Story of Constantinople 

have it belongs to a veritable renaissance of Byzantine 
art, and that most notably in its mosaics. The apse 
has a great picture of Christ with the open Gospel 
in His hand. It is whitewashed over. The mural 
paintings of the side chapels are of little interest ; but 
the mosaics in the narthex and outer narthex are by 
far the finest remaining examples of the art now 
visible in Constantinople. Those in the outer narthex 
represent the history of the B. V. Mary, a wonderful 
series of glowing pictures in gold and colours. They 
are well worth minute study of the designs, the dresses, 
and the colours. ^ But the most striking of all is the 
splendid figure of Christ enthroned, with Theodore 
kneeling to present to Him the renovated church. 
Theodore wears the great cap conferred on him as 
a sign of dignity by Andronicus H. The Lord, with 
the Gospel in His left hand, blesses with the right 
hand, the thumb and two fingers joined, after the 
Greek manner of benediction. It is a noble figure, 
restrained and solemn. No longer, as in the earlier 
representations, is He represented as young and beard- 
less, but as a Man of middle life, the features and 
hair approximating at least to the traditional portrait. 
But still, and seemingly to the last in Constantinople, 
the early reticence which prevented a representation of 
the Crucifixion remains. All through the incidents 
of His earthly life He is followed by the artistic 
reverence of the Byzantines ; but His death remains 
unpictured. The other separate representation of the 
Lord in this church shows Him blessing, as the giver 
of life. 

There are many other churches which should be 
visited. Of the medioeval example the most interesting 
are the church of S. Thekla, S. Mary Pammakaristos, 
S. Theodosia (mentioned above, p. 62), the Pantokra- 

* Murray's " Guide " gives a complete list of the subjects 

The Churches 

tor, SS. Peter and Mark, and the little village church of 
S. Mary at the Fountain. Of this last more hereafter. 
S. Mary Pammakaristos was built by the sister of 
Alexius Comnenus early in the twelfth century. It 
stands on the hill overlooking the Phanar. Its design 
is unlike any other building in the city. The main 
dome rests on a drum supported by four arches, these 
again on another drum and other arches. There are 
narthex and outer narthex and a number of subsidiary 
chapels, divided from the central chapel by columns of 
different sizes and shapes. In the south-east chapel 
there is still a splendid mosaic of Christ blessing the 
apostles. The tomb of Alexius Comnenus and his 
famous daughter Anna were here, but they were 
destroyed when Murad III. turned the church into 
a mosque. From 1456 to 1586 it was the patriarchal 
church. A legend attaches to it which declares that 
the patriarch Jeremiah I. preserved it, and all other 
churches then remaining, by producing Moslem wit- 
nesses before Suleiman, that the city was really sur- 
rendered by capitulation, and that the churches were 
guaranteed to the Christians. Two aged Moslems 
were brought from Adrianople and their oath was 
accepted, a strange story of lying in which neither 
faith seems to be established by the truthfulness of its 

S. Theodosia, called " the rose mosque '* for the hor- 
rible tragedy which marked its last day as a Christian 
church, is within the Aya Kapou, the Porta Divae 
Theodosiae which was named after it. S. Theodosia 
was the first martyr, under Leo the Isaurian, of the 
iconoclastic persecutions, and her name was held in 
special veneration by the ladies cf Constantinople. 
Her festival is on May 29; and in 1453 when the 
city was captured the church was crowded with 
worshippers, many of whom had spent the whole night 


The Story of Constantinople 

there in prayer. Before midday the doors were 
broken down and the sipahis poured in. Over the 
walls clustered roses then in bloom, and, within, the 
columns were wreathed with them. The picture of the 
ladies seized and carried off into slavery lingered in the 
verses of Turkish poets, and when the church became 
a mosque its name was that of the rose, Giil Djami. 

The Church of the Pantokrator stands high above 
the inner bridge, a little below, and eastwards of, the 
mosque of Mohammed II. It is a triple church, 
separated by columns and all entered from the narthex. 
It is probable that it was founded by John Comnenus 
and his wife Irene, who died in 1 124. The exterior 
of the apses have much fine work ; and the door and 
windows of the narthex are well worth careful ex- 
amination. Outside in the rough square westwards 
of the church is a fine tomb of verde antico which is 
said to have been the tomb of the Empress Irene, on 
which the crosses stiil remain. Of the three churches 
the northern was monastic and the central was the 
mausoleum of the Comneni. There slept Irene and 
her husband John I., Manuel I. and his wife Irene, a 
third Irene, the wife of Andronicus II., and Manuel 
[I. who drove back the Turks from the walls. 
During the Latin occupation this church was the 
patriarchal cathedral ; there Morosini had his throne ; 
and there the holy picture of the B. V. M. (see above 
p. 263) was kept by them. When Michael VIII. 
returned it was brought forth and borne before him 
tlirough the Golden Gate. Here in 1453 dwelt 
Gennadios who prophecied incessantly against the 
union of the churches, and hence he was brought 
when after the capture of the city he was chosen 
patriarch. It is a church of many memories, now 
almost deserted. Near it is the ancient library 
of the monastery, a quaint disfigured octagonal 

The Churches 

building that peers over a high wall in a narrow 

-^Sr-. - 


These churches — and others, such as S. Saviour 
Pantepoptes, S. Theodore Tyrone (see illustration and 
above, p. 239), and the Myrelaion — retain some of 


The Story of Constantinople 

their old dignity ; and if they should ever come again 
into Christian hands, it is very likely that many mosaics 
and much early work, in them would be rediscovered. 

There is another which 1 cannot forbear to mention, 
though it hardly repays the search for it. For many 
hours in April 1896 did I wander and inquire and 
grope through filthy streets, followed by filthier Turks, 
whose attentions became embarrassing, till I relieved 
myself of them by means of a stern gaze, a threatening 
forefinger, and a solemnly delivered passage from Euclid, 
in English. It is not far from Aivan Serai, and is 
approached through the wall now broken down. It 
is now called Atik Mustapha Pasha Djamissi, but was 
consecrated in 451 as the Church of SS. Peter and 
Mark, having been built by two patricians, Gallius and 
Candidas, *' on the shore of the Golden Horn, in the 
quarter of Blachernae.'' It is a sordid, decrepit hovel 
to-day ; but outside it stands its ancient font, made of 
a single block of marble, and with three steps descend- 
ing to the bottom. It belongs probably to the earliest 
years of the reign of Justinian. A pathetic memory, 
it is forgotten and uncared for save by a few faithful 
Greeks who cleanse it secretly from time to time. 
Is it ever used secretly now ? 

These may stand for examples of the many churches 
which still remain from Byzantine days. But there 
are others which should not be forgotten. The Church 
of the Patriarchate and the little S. Mary Mouchlio- 
tissa have been mentioned already (above, p. 155). 
The Armenian patriarch has his throne in the Church 
of S. George in the Psamatia. The churches in Pera 
and Galata are worth a visit, and notably S. Georgio 
a Monte, near the Ottoman bank, and the Armenian 
church of S. Gregory, built in 1436, and buried in a 
back street above the wharfs not far from Top-haneh. 
This last contains some fine MSS. and a sacred picture 
of Christ, of great antiquity. It witnessed fearful 

The Churches 

tragedies in 1876. The open apse of the Armenian 
churches, with its altar covered with candles, contrasts 
with the hidden holy table of the orthodox church, 
plain, and concealed behind the high iconostasis with 
its closed gates. 

The Christianity of Pera and GaJata is a strange 
contrast to the solemn Mohammedanism, of Stambill. 
But it is impossible to attend the offering of the Holy 
Eucharist in the orthodox churches of Pera and of the 
Phanar without feeling how firm and enthusiastic is the 
faith of the worshippers. They stand indeed, hardly 
Jess than the Armenians, always on the verge of the 
undiscovered country. 

' Vjjii TOTt 6 Asff'TTorrii. 


al5'*:^KS^ %L.;' "^Jcp^s^^^^:'^^^ 

' T" 

-^■v: i-.:;.s. 1.'.. 


7he Walls 

'T"'HE history of Constantinople— it is proclaimed at 
every epoch in her life — has ever its two abiding 
interests, the Churcli and the military spirit. The one 
is represented for all time in S. Sophia. The other 
finds its memorial in the walls. 

For centuries, whose heroic story we have so baldly 
told, the city of the CiEsars preserved for Europe the 
justice of Rome, the learning of Greece. She taught 
to the barbarians the meaning of c'lvilitas^ she led many 
of the nations into the truest brotherhood of the 
Catholic Church. And all through she was fighting 
a war which never ceased, often driven back upon her 
own defences, but again and again issuing forth a con- 
queror. By her age-long resistance Constantinople 
saved Europe from a new barbarian deluge, from a 
second Dark Age. And Constantinople herself was 
saved by her walls. There is no historic monument 
in Europe which has a memory more glorious or more 

To the student of history there is nothing of all he 

The Walls 

sees in the ** Queen of Cities" that is so fuJJ of per- 
petual and varied interest. The whole story of Con- 
stantinople might be told in commentary on the great 
walls that once protected her from the foe. Here it 
shall only be pointed how two or three days may be 
spent — or two or three hours if it must be so — in 
learning something of these magnificent ruins which 
have so great a history written on their face. The 
writer has spent many happy hours in tracing them at 
every point. Within a few days of his last visit the 
knowledge, such as it was, which he had gained, was a 
hundredfold increased by the superb work of devotion 
and research in which Professor van Miilingen has 
summed up the studies of many years, which will be, 
once for all, the classical authority on the walls and 
adjoining sites of Byzantine Constantinople. It has 
often already been referred to in these pages. Here 
let it be said that every word that is written on the 
walls is revised in the light of what Professor van 
Miilingen has published, and that no one who wishes 
seriously to study the history of the fortifications, or 
indeed of the city itself, can now do so with any 
success without the help of this almost faultless 

The simplest method for the traveller is probably 
first to take the less interesting and more ruinous walls 
on the Golden Horn and the Sea of Marmora — which 
indeed will probably only be visited in detail by those 
who have a special historical interest, and then 
to turn to the Land walls, which no one ever 
visits the city without seeing at least in superficial 

Constantinople, though it has ceased to be the 
capital city of a maritime power, has never lost the 
advantages of its unique maritime position. The sea, 
with its currents and its storms, has always been its first 


The Story of Constantinople 

natural protector. Only once has the city been cap- 
tured from the sea. But this has not meant that 
defence was necessary only for the landward approach. 
Byzantium had its sea-walls : they were enlarged by 
Constantine, and in 439 Theodosius II. completed them 
by carrying them on to meet the land-walls, which 
ended then at Blachernae northwards and by the Golden 


Gate on the south. During the middle ages they 
constantly needed repair, notably after the arctic 
winter of 763-4, when huge ice-floes thronged the 
Bosphorus and the Golden Horn, and even broke over 
the wall at the point of the Acropolis (Seraglio 
point). In the ninth century again Theophilus made 
a thorough restoration, which is recorded in many 
inscriptions still to be seen on the wall by the Dierman 
Kapoussi at the foot of the Seraglio gardens. Among 
later restorations are those of Leo the Wise and his 

7he Walls 

brother Alexander : a tower, near Koum Kapoussi, 
bears the inscription ; 

+ nrproc aeontoc k aaehan + 

and it is here, it has been suggested, that the Cretans 
held out in 1453 till Mohammed gave them special 
terms and allowed them to depart with all the honours 
of war. Michael Palsologus, after the recovery of 
the city from the Latins, began an inner sea-wall, but no 
traces of it, Professor van Millingen says, have survived. 
In 1 35 1 again all the seaward walls were repaired, 
and all the houses that had been built between them 
and the sea were destroyed. It appears that the strip 
of ground originally outside the walls was smaller than 
at present, considerable silting having taken place 
during the last five centuries. The Venetian fleet in 
1203 •^rew near enough to the walls to throw a flying 
bridge from the ships to the ramparts. 

The last gate of the land wails is the Xylo-porta. 
The first on the Golden Horn is Aivan-Serai. Near 
it is a landing-stage, at which the Emperors used 
formally to be received by the Senate when they came 
by water to Blachernae. Close to this gate are the 
churches of S. Thekla and SS. Peter and Mark, and 
the church (on an ancient site) of S. Demetrius. 
From an archway near the next gate comes the 
splendid Nike now in the museum. The walls here 
are now some way from the Golden Horn, generally 
at the opposite side of the narrow street, and can be 
seen only in fragments, sometimes set into a house, or 
in a garden. Balat Kapoussi, gate of the Kynegos 
(Hunter), protected a harbour : the name is thought 
to be connected with the imperial hunting. The 
other gates going eastwards that are of interest are 
the Porta Phani, the gate of Phanar, where was once 
a lighthouse, now the nearest entrance to the patriarchal 

s 273 

The Story of Constantinople 

church and to the little church of the Mouchliotissa ; 
Petri Kapoussi, the gate of the Petrion, near the 
famous convent where so many imperial ladies ended 
their days, and where the Venetians cast their bridges 
on to the walls in 1 203, recovering the city for Isaac 
Angelus, and in 1 204, capturing it for the Latins. 
The desperate Turkish attack on this point in 1453 
was repulsed; Aya Kapoussi, the gate of S. Theo- 
dosia, comes next. After the inner bridge are the 
old Venetian quarter and the great timber yards. 
By the outer bridge is the Baluk Bazar Kapoussi, 
the gate of the fish market, where now as in the 
fifteenth century the fish market is held. It was the 
Gate of the Perama (the old ferry was across here, 
where is now the bridge) and it was also called Porta 
Hebraica, for the Jews early settled there, and held their 
property till they were dispossessed to build the Yeni 
Valideh Djamissi. Beyond it were the settlements of 
the merchants of Pisa and Amalfi. Beyond it again 
is the Bagtche Kapoussi, the Hopra rov l>JsuptoVy the 
harbour in which the imperial fleet was moored when 
it came in for repairs. From here eastwards was the 
home of the first Genoese colony, and by it is the pier 
at which a new Grand Vizier lands in state when he 
first comes to take possession of the office of his 
department. Further still (after the Porta Veteris 
Rectoris) is the Yali Kiosk Kapoussi, at the point 
where the walls which now separate the Seraglio 
from the rest of the city join the ancient fortifications. 
It was the Porta Eugenii, and from it the chain 
was stretched across to Galata. Here the brides of 
the Emperors landed when they came by sea, and 
were "invested with the imperial buskins and other 
insignia of their rank," 

From this point there is difficulty for the student to 
trace the course of the walls. Part can be identified 

The Walls 

at the beginning of the Seraglio enclosure ; but part 
cannot be seen at all except from the sea. Approach 
is forbidden by the harsh " Yasak, Yasak " of the 
sentries. The walls from the Acropohs, now Seraglio 
point, to the marble tower at the end of the Land walls, 
had 1 88 towers, and were above five miles in length. 
Unlike those on the Golden Horn they were built 
close to the sea, and the line of their course ** was 
extremely irregular, turning in and out with every bend 
of the shore, to present always as short and sharp a 
front as possible to the waves that dashed against 
them." At least thirteen gates are known. The first 
is the Cannon gate, Top Kapoussi, *'a short distance 
to the south of the apex of the promontory," called by 
the Greeks the gate of S. Barbara, from the church 
which stood near it. Close to it was the Mangana, 
or arsenal of the city. The next gate is Deirmen 
Kapoussi (gate of the mill), of which the Greek 
name is unknown. It was near here that the great 
ice-floes broke over the wall ; and a number of 
inscriptions westwards from this point mark the 
restorations of Theophilus. Near it " a hollow now 
occupied by market gardens indicates the site of the 
Kynegion, the amphitheatre erected by Severus when 
he restored Byzantium," where in later times Justinian 
II. set his feet on Leontius and Apsimarus (see 
above, p. 55). 

The next gate is the Demir Kapoussi, with a small 
opening through which it is said that the Sultanas sewn 
in sacks were thrown, and near it large chambers 
possibly used as prisons. A little further on there 
are arched buttresses through which water used to be 
brought from the holy spring of the ancient Church of 
S. Saviour, and on which was built the famous Indjili 
Kiosk, from which the Sultans would view the splen- 
did panorama of hill and sea which stretches before it. 


The Story oj Constantinople 

Here, too, was the palace of Mangana, and not far off 
the atrium of Justinian mentioned by Procopius, where 
stood the splendid statue of Theodora. Further south 
was the Church of the Theotokos Hodegetria, where 
originally the icon of the B. V. M. attributed to S. 
Luke (see p. 263) was kept. The place of the small 
gate named after the church is shown by two slabs, 
built into the inner side of the gateway now walled up, 
bearing the inscription " Open me the gates of righteous- 
ness that I may go in and praise the Lord." It was 
through this gate that John VL Palaeologus entered in 
1355, having tricked the guards by pretending that his 
ships were wrecked. Beyond Ahour Kapoussi is the 
ruined wall of the palace of Hormisdas, where once 
was the Bucoleon, and then comes the small bay which 
formed the imperial port of the Bucoleon. A little 
further one sees clearly the Church of SS. Sergius and 
Bacchus above the ruined wall, and here was the gate 
on which was an inscription which commemorated 
the famous Nika insurrection. Beyond this were 
two harbours, the Harbour of Julian or S. Sophia, and 
that of the Kontoscolion, where the gate is now called 
Koum Kapoussi. Within this is the Armenian quarter 
with its patriarchate. Next comes Yeni Kapoussi, 
the new gate, where began the ancient harbour now 
silted up, called the harbour of Eleutherius (Vlanga 

The next gate was called that of S. ^milianus, 
now Daoud Pasha Kapoussi, which ended the walls of 
Constantino along the shore. The next is the <7:6pTct 
rov Ya/ji^a^a, Psamnthia Kapoussi, named, as is the 
quarter, after the sand thrown up on the beach. The 
next, Narli Kapoussi, the Pomegranate gate, is that 
which gave admission to the monastery of the Studium. 
Here on the Decollation of S. John Baptist, August 
29, the Emperor was received by the abbat and con- 

The Walls 

ducted in state to the church to attend the Eucharist 
of the day. On the tower close by is an inscription 
recording its reparation by Manuel Comnenus. Be- 
yond was the church and monastery of Diomed, on 
whose steps Basil the Macedonian slept when he first 
came to Constantinople a homeless wanderer. The 
wall ends with the famous Mermer Kuleh. Perhaps 
this was at one time the prison of S. Diomed, where 
Pope Martin I. was placed in 654, and Maria Comnena, 
mother of Alexius II., was imprisoned by Andronicus 
Comnenus. Traces of a two-storeyed building still 
exist behind this magnificent tower which so splendidly 
ends the sea-walls. 


we turn northwards and enter 
upon the famous defences, so 

ong the bulwarks of the 

Something has al- 

:t. ready been said about 

the building of the 

>. Theodosian walls. It 

has been seen that 

Anthemius who ruled 

as Praetorian prefect 

during the minority of 

the Emperor Theo- 

■- — dosius 1 1 . enlarged and 

- refortified the city, and 

that *' the bounds he 

assigned to the city, fixed 

substantially her permanent 

dimensions, and behind the 

raised — improved and often repaired, 

is successors — Constantinople acted her 


bulwarks lie 

indeed, by his successors — Constantinopl 

great part in the history of the world." 

The Story of Constantinople 

by Constantine, then holding the office that had 
been held by Anthemius, thirty-four years after 
the first construction, ** this was a wall, indeed, 
rh xai reT^og ovtojc'^ — a wall which, so long as 
ordinary courage survived, and the modes of ancient 
warfare were not superseded, made Constantinople 
impregnable, and behind which civilization defied the 
assaults of barbarism for a thousand years/' 

The walls stretch now from the marble tower to a 
short distance beyond the Palace of the Porphyro- 
genitus. Originally they went further, but, as will be 
seen, they were superseded by newer fortifications be- 
yond that point. 

The walls, as may be traced to-day, were thus 
divided. First, within was the great inner wall from 
I 3 J to 1 5 J feet thick, which historians call rb Kuffrpov 
H /^syu, rb (Miya rityog. It rose probably about 50 
feet above the ground, with a battlement of 4 feet 8 
inches. It was guarded by ninety-six towers, stand- 
ing about iSo^eet apart, about 60 feet high, and pro- 
jecting from the wall from 18 to 34 feet. These 
towers were distinct buildings from the wall, though 
connected with it. The capture of a tower would not 
necessarily involve the capture of the wall. From the 
roof of the tower the engineer discharged stones and 
Greek fire, and there, says Nlcephorus Gregoras, the 
sentinels looked westward day and night, keeping 
themselves awake at night by shouting to one another 
along the line. 

Between the inner and outer walls was the inner 
terrace, 6 'mpl^oXog, in which were sheltered the troops 
for the defence of the outer walls. It was a space of 
from 50 to 64 feet. Above it rising now 10 feet, but 
probably of old nearly twice as far, was the outer 

1 Inscription formerly on the outer wall between the fourth 
and fifth towers south of the Golden Gate. 

Ihe Walls 

wall, the *< little wall." It is ** from 2 to 6J feet thick, 
rising some 10 feet above the present level of the 
peribolos, and about 2']\ feet above the present level of 
the terrace between the outer wall and the moat." ^ 
The upper part is built above a lower solid portion, 
" for the most part in arches, faced on the outer side 
with hewn blocks of stone," and supported behind by 
arches which carried a parapet-wall. This wall was 
also protected by towers with small windows. Behind 
this outer wall the troops on which fell the brunt of the 
fighting, as in 1422 and 1453, were sheltered. 

Beyond the outer wall was an embankment or 
terrace, rl g^w 'Traparely^iov, some 60 feet broad. Then 
came the moat, of at least the same breadth as the 
terrace. This is now to a great extent filled up and 
used for market gardens, but in front of the Golden 
Gate it is still 22 feet deep. It had scarp and counter- 
scarp, each 5 feet thick, and the scarp was surmounted 
by a breast-work with battlements 5 feet high. Across 
the moat are walls, which were probably aqueducts. 
It seems probable that the moat itself was rarely if 
ever filled with water 

To the gates which went through both walls be- 
longs the greatest historic interest. Some of the ten 
great gates were merely used to give entrance to the 
fortifications ; others, connected with bridges thrown 
over the moat, formed the public gates of the city. 
These latter were specially guarded by towers. Besides 
these there were a few posterns, most of which led 
only into the inner terrace. Starting from the marble 
tower we come across a series of inscriptions, one of 
Basil and Constantine (975-1025), over the first inner 
tower, and after that a number commemorating the 
restoration by John Palaeologus, 1433-44. The first 

^ These figures, and all the others, came from Professor 
Van Millingen's exhaustive book. 


The Story of Constatitinople 

gate is the most renowned of all, the Porta Aurea, the 
Golden Gate, built of marble with two beautifully 
carved capitals. It is flanked by two great marble 
towers. It was built between 389 and 391 to commem- 
orate the victory of Theodosius the Great over Maxi- 
mus. Through it he entered in triumph in 391, and 
like the column of Arcadius and the obelisk in the 
Hippodrome, it is the still surviving memorial of his 
greatness. Above it at one time stood a statue of 
Theodosius, and many groups of statuary. An inscrip- 
tion recorded its foundation : 


Probably, as Professor Bury has suggested, the second 
line was inscribed under Theodosius II. when the 
archway became part of the new wall. " At the south- 
western angle of the northern tower the Roman eagle 
still spreads its wings ; the laureated monogram * XP ' 
appears above the central archway on the city side of 
the gateway, and several crosses are scattered over the 
building." Traces of frescoes may still be seen on the 
inner walls of the southern arch, which Professor Van 
Millingen thinks may have been used as a chapel. It 
had three archways, the centre of which was the 
imperial entrance. Through this gate passed new 
sovereigns from the Hebdomon (which Professor Van 
Millingen has conclusively proved to have been situated 
at the village, now Makrikeui, some three miles west- 
wards of the city) when they came to be crowned or 
to take formal possession. Such were Marcian in 
450, Leo I. in 457, Basiliscus in 476, Phocas in 602, 
Leo the Armenian in 813, and Nicephorus Phocas in 
963. Here too envoys from the Pope were some- 
times met. 

Through it came the imperial triumphs of Herac- 
lius, Constantine Copronymus, Theophilus, Basil I., 

I . v.. • ^-^-fev 







The Walls 

Tzimisces, Basil II. The last to enter in triumph 
was Michael Palseologus when the Empire was re- 
stored to the Greeks in 1261, and the Emperor 
walked humbly on foot through the gate till he 
reached the church of the Studium. 

It was long one of the strongest defences of the city, 
an almost impregnable acropolis, as Cantacuzene calls 
it. When the city was captured by the Turks, Mo- 
hammed II. increased the defences by building here, in 
1 457, behind the gate, the great enclosure now called 
the Seven Towers, which became the state prison. In 
it foreign ambassadors were placed when their countries 
were at war with Turkey, and there as late as the war 
with Revolutionary France a French ambassador was 
confined. Mohammed II. built up all the entrances 
of the Golden Gate; and the legend still survives that 
through it a victorious Christian army shall enter when 
the city is captured from the Turks. 

The gate nearest to it, now called Yedi Koule 
Kapoussi, may probably have existed in Byzantine 
times, as a public gate called by the same name as the 
greater gate. Through it doubtless Basil the Mace- 
donian came when he turned aside and lay down to 
sleep on the steps of the monastery of S. Diomed. 

Next to this as we walk northwards comes the 
second military gate, and, after walls which have 
several inscriptions, the second public gate, the Selivri 
Kapoussi (gate leading to the Selivria road). This 
was originally the tu'X;; r^s -^vyhit gate of the Holy 
Spring, which is at the village now called Balukli. 
After we have looked on it, with its old towers and dark 
narrow entrance through which Alexius the general of 
Michael Palseologus entered in 1261, it is delightful 
to turn aside and follow the shady road half a mile to 
the little Christian village, best of all if it is en fete in 
the week of the Greek Easter, when you can buy icons 


The Story of Constantinople 

and sacred medals, and join the crowds who throng the 
church and descend the steps by the baptistery to the 
sacred well. The legend of its sacredness goes far 
back. As early as Justinian's time there was a church 
there, as Procopius says, "in the place which is called 
the Fountain, where there is a thick grove of cypress 
trees, a meadow whose rich earth blooms with flowers, 
a garden abounding with fruit, a fountain which noise- 
lessly pours forth a quiet and sweet stream of water — 
in short, where all the surroundings befit a sacred 
place." There was also for many centuries a palace 
and park of the Emperors. The last tale of the sacred 
well belongs to the time of the Turkish conquest. On 
the fatal 29th of May the village priest was sitting in 
his garden beside the well frying his fish, when a mes- 
senger rushed up with the news that the Turks had 
broken through the wall and were entering the city. 
The holy man refused to believe it. " But run to the 
top of your garden," said his friend, "and see for 
yourself." "No. I would as soon believe that these 
fish should leap out of the frying-pan into the spring." 
And they did ; and there are their descendants, as any 
one may see for himself, to this day. 

Back, after a pleasant rest at Balukli, to the third 
military gate, only a short space from that of the 'itriyr^ ; 
then to the Porta Rhegion, the gate of Rhegium 
Yeni Mevlevi Haneh Kapoussi, which led to Rhegium 
on the Marmora twelve miles away. On it are no less 
than five inscriptions on the gateway itself, and two on 
the southern tower. Of the latter, one reads — 


+ + 

'« The fortune of Constantine our God-protected Lord 

The Walls 

After the fourth military gate comes the gate of S. 
Romanus,^ now Top Kapoussi, near which the last 
Emperor fell, and through which Mohammed entered 
in triumph. Opposite this point the Sultan's tent was 
placed, as Phrantzes tells us. 

The next military gate is that of the Pempton. To 
this the road descends into the valley of the Lycus, and 
we pass the great breach made by the Turkish cannon in 
1 45 3, through which the troops forced their entrance. 
In the Lycus valley it was that Theodosius II. fell from 
his horse in 450, an accident from the effects of which he 
died. The next public gate is that called Edirn^ Kapoussi, 
the Adrianople gate, which was of old the gate of Chari- 
sius. Within, the road led to the Imperial cemetery by 
the Church of the Holy Apostles, where Theodora, the 
wife of the great Justinian, was buried. Here was the 
part of the walls which was called Miffoniy^tov : and here 
was generally the chief point of attack against the city. 
** Here stood the gates opening upon the streets which 
commanded the hills of the city ; here was the weakest 
part of the fortification'', the channel of the Lycus 
rendering a deep moat impossible, while the dip in the 
line oi the walls as they descended and ascended the 
slopes of the valley put the defenders below the level 
occupied by the besiegers." This was shown in the very 
first siege, 626, as well as in the last; and it was here 
that the first cannonade was directed against the walls, 
in 1 42 2. In the last siege two towers of the inner wall 
and a large part of the outer wail were battered to pieces, 
and the moat was filled ready for an assault. Giustiniani 
erected a palisade covered with hides and supported with 
earthworks ; and it was not till the gallant Genoese fell 

^ I must adhere to this view (see above, pp. 142, 145, 147, 
150, 151), which seems to me to follow most clearly that of 
the contemporary authorities, though I recognise that Mr 
Pears's opinion that the Pempton was the gate which the 
chroniclers of the siege call S. Romanus is powerfully argued. 


The Story of Constantinople 

mortally wounded that the Turks succeeded in forcing 
their way in. 

It is through the Edirne Kapoussi that one naturally 
enters to see both the Church of the Chora and the 
Tekfour Serai, the palace of the Porphyrogenitus. 
The large mosque within the gate is that built by 
Suleiman in memory of one of his daughters. 

Continuing northwards, with the striking view of 
the ruined palace rising above the walls, we reach 
the sixth military gate, and beyond this the lines of 
the walls, which have turned eastwards, are much 
broken. The sixth military gate is the Kerko-Porta 
(see above p. 150). 

Beyond this the wall of Theodosius comes to an 
end abruptly. From this point the fortifications 
have a different character. " Along the greater 
portion of their course these bulwarks consisted of 
a single wall, without a moat ; but at a short dis- 
tance from the water, where they stand on level 
ground, they formed a double wall, which was at 
one time protected by a moat and constituted a 
citadel at the north-west angle of the city." They 
belong, Professor van Millingen has also clearly proved, 
to at least three periods, to the days of Heraclius, of 
Leo, and of Manuel Comnenus. After the Kerko- 
Porta the Theodosian walls turned eastwards ; when 
the palace of Blachernae was defended it was probably 
by the erection, after the fifth century, of a new wall. 
The wall of Manuel Comnenus, built to give additional 
protection, left the earlier wall on an inner line of 

The wall of Manuel is stronger than that of 
Theodosius, but it has no moat ; it resisted all the 
efforts of the Turkish artillery in 1453. The 
public gate in it was that of the Kaligaria (the dis- 
trict where military shoes were made), and from 

7he Walls 

a tower beside it the last Emperor and Phrantzes 
reconnoitred early in the morning of the last day 
of the siege. North of this, from the tower which 
stands at the point where the wall turns eastwards, 
the fortifications seem to have been entirely rebuilt 
during the repairs of the fourteenth and fifteenth 
century. In this piece stands the gate of Gyro- 
limn^, through which probably the leaders of the 
Crusaders in 1 203, who were encamped on the 
hill just outside, entered to negotiate with Isaac 
Angelus. Behind it stood the palace of Blachernae, 
the site of which may be expected to reveal much 
when it is excavated. 

Beyond this, from the great tower, unbattlemented, 
which has on it an inscription in honour of Isaac Angelus, 
who reconstructed it in 1188, the greatest difficulties 
surround the identification of the different portions. The 
first part of the wall is of great height — sometimes sixty- 
eight feet — and of thickness varying from over thirty 
to over sixty feet. Three towers protect this part ; two 
'* twin towers '* rising to a great height above the 
walls. The special character of the walls is deter- 
mined by the fact that, within, the palace of Blachernae 
stood upon a terraced hill. The second tower, much 
higher than that with the inscription, may be identified 
with the tower of Isaac Angelus, described by Nicetas 
Choniates as built by the Emperor both for the defence 
of Blachernae, and for a residence for himself. Beyond 
it is a third tower, which has been generally considered 
to be the tower of Anemas, mentioned first by Anna 
Comnena, as the place in which Anemas, who had 
conspired against her father, was confined. 

All these identifications are difficult ; and it is also diffi- 
cult to feel sure that a more satisfactory solution of the 
many problems which arise would not be to consider 
that the tower of Isaac Angelus is the comparatively 


The Story of Constantinople 

small one that still bears his inscription, and that the 
two others, and northern tower, combine to form the 
*' prison of Anemas." 

Within these towers was certainly the Palace of 
Blachernae, and the chambers now so grim and foul, 
that may sometimes be inspected, are very likely the 
prisons built by Alexius Comnenus and connected 
with his palace. 

Beyond these towers a new series of walls begins. 
These are *' in two parallel lines, connected by trans- 
verse walls, 80 as to form a citadel beside the Golden 
Horn. The inner wall belongs to the reign of 
Heraclius ; the outer is an erection of Leo V. 
the Armenian." A splendid view of these magnificent 
walls, and of the Golden Horn below, is obtained 
from the hill westwards, on which the Crusaders en- 
camped in 1203. The wall of Heraclius, with its 
three hexagonal towers, was built to protect the 
suburb of Blachernae after the attack of the Avars 
in 627 : that of Leo was built in 813 when the 
city was in danger from the Bulgarians. A citadel 
was formed between the two walls, within which was 
the chapel and sacred well of S. Nicholas. The 
gate is the gate of Blachernae, and beyond it is a 
tower with an inscription stating that it was recon- 
structed by " Romanus, the Christ-loving sovereign." 
From this point a wall led to the water's-edge, and 
in it was the Wooden Gate (SuXoVo^ra, see above, 

P- 273)- 

We have thus completed the circuit of the most 

interesting mediaeval defences in Europe. At every 

point they have memories that go back to great 

historic days, memories of treachery as well as 

heroism, but above all of a long and gallant defence 

of all that made the civilization of Europe enduring 

and worthy to endure. 


The Walls 

To-day as one goes along the great triumphal way, 
still retaining fragments at least of its solid pavement 
that was laid by Justinian, the way along which 
countless armies of emperors and of invaders have 
passed on their march of triumph or retreat, we are 
reminded of the past not only by shattered walls, and 
by the goats that feed and scramble where once the 
soldiers of the empire kept watch, but by the im- 
memorial cemetery, with its groups of cypress, which 
stands beside us as we walk. 

It is a perpetual memorial of the vanity of human 
power. There, where thousands of Turks are now 
laid to rest, where the stones gape above the coffins 
placed a few feet below, and the strange lozenge- 
shapes with their gaudy inscriptions lean and totter 
on every side ; there once crusading armies camped 
to sack a Christian city ; and there the soldiers of 
Mohammed mustered for the last fight which was 
to give them the crown of their centuries of war. 
Hans, Avars, Bulgars, Goths, men of Italy and 
Russia and Greece, all have passed ; and the men 
who have conquered where they fought and failed 
lie buried where once they camped. On one side of 
the great imperial way stretches this vast gloomy 
silent graveyard ; on the other stand is the shattered 

In that long, broken, deserted wall the history of 
the great city seems summed up. " Debris colossal 
du passe, elle nous diminue et nous ecrase, nous et 
nos existences courtes, et nos souffrances d'une heure, 
et tout le rien instable que nous sommes." 



The Mosques^ Tiirbehs and Fountains 


HE mosques of Constantinople, as has already been 
shown, are very largely buildings which had been 
churches in past days. The inspiration felt so over- 
poweringly in the Church of 
the Divine Wisdom still abides 
in the buildings erected by the 
Emperors of past days. More 
open and evident still is the 
fact that the architects of the 
mosques, built for Mohammedan 
worship since the Turks have 
"mohammedjThe APOSTLE OF GOD." fuled in the city of the Caesars, 

EMBROIDERY FROM CURTAIN OVER ^^^^ ^^^^ l^j-^Jg j^^j.g ^^^^ ^Opy 
THE DOOR OF S. SOPHiA. ^^^^ ^^^^^^ ^^^^^ ^j^^^ ^^^^ ^^^^ 

quered. In most of the great mosques of Stambul, 
S. Sophia is simply and directly imitated. In others 
the leading idea is developed with a variation or two. 
Of genuine originality the Turkish architects have 
shown not a trace. 

The innumerable mosques of Constantinople are of 
two kinds, those founded by members of the reigning 
dynasty, and those built by humbler persons. Most 
of the mosques have a court with a fountain in the 
• midst. Many have houses, round kitchens, schools 
for children and for students of the Koran, hospitals, 
and the dwelling of the imam. Nearly all have 

Mosques^ Tiirbehs and Fountains 

tiirbehs, tombs of tlie royal family and of persons of 
great distinction. All have of course the minaret, 
which to the traveller is the most characteristic feature 
of the vast city. The ordinary mosques have but one 
minaret, from which five times a day the voice of the 
muezzin calls the faithful to pray. The royal mosques 
have more than one minaret, S. Sophia and the mosque 
of Suleiman have four, the mosque of Ahmed has six. 

The first and most • 

sacred of the mosques 
is that of Eyub, with 
the tiirbeh of that great 
warrior by its side. 
It is the one mosque 
which no Christian 
may enter or even 
approach. On the 
accession of each new 
sultan he " must be 
girded with the sabre 
of the great Osman 
by the hands of the 
general of the Mevlevi 
Dervishes, who comes 

across Asia Minor from distant Konleh for th^ proud 
purpose. Only two Sultans since Mohammed II. 
have omitted the ceremonial, or have performed it else- 
where, and the reign of each was brief and calamitous.'* 

Both mosque and tiirbeh, the most sacred buildings in 
all Stambul to the Moslem, are kept, it is said, with 
ceaseless care, and redecorated again and again with 
increased splendour. Near them is a great street of 
tombs, where sleep the long line of sheikhs-ul-Islam. 

In that crowded suburb, still fanatically Moham- 
medan, the stranger lingers but few moments. He 
seeks the characteristic expression of Moslem reverence 


The Story of Constant'mople 

in the great buildings that crown the hills. In the 
heat of the afternoon he chmbs the hill to where once 
the great church of the Holy Apostles stood. Linger- 
ing on the terrace he looks over the Golden Horn and 
the vast city, a city of gardens and minarets, stretching 
as far as the eye can see. As the hour for prayer 
draws near, men pour from every street, across through 
the market, or by the open arid space that extends 
westwards till the narrow streets close round, stretch- 
ing down to the harbour. Hundreds and hundreds 
they seem, of all ages, in every kind of attire, of 
every race, some light-haired and fresh-coloured, as of 
more than half European blood ; some, negroes from 
Africa, but all males and all Moslems. They enter 
the great mosque ; the Christian must stand back, even 
from the court ; a few minutes and the stream pours 
out again and leaves but a few pious lingerers still at 
their prayers or some children sitting before their teacher 
and reciting to him the Koran. 

It is the great mosque of Mohammed II., built in 
1 463-69 for the Conqueror by a Greek Christian, 
Christodoulos. It covers a great extent of ground, 
with its schools, its tiirbehs, and its great court. 
The court is cloistered, and it has eighteen splendid 
columns, which came, there can be little doubt, from 
the Church of the Apostles. Six are of red granite, 
twelve of verde antico ; the simple carving of the 
capitals belongs to a period when Byzantine art was 
at its best. In the midst of the court is a fountain 
shaded by cypresses. It is almost always deserted, 
save for a few children here and there at play. 

We enter the mosque itself by the great door at the 
south. Its size is its most impressive feature. The 
decoration is simple ; great black arabesques on a 
white ground : dignified, but, in the full sunlight which 
pours through the great windows, too dazzling. At the 



Mosques^ Tiirbehs afid Fountains 

right above the entrance is the blue tablet on which 
is inscribed that traditional prophecy of the prophet : 
" They shall conquer Constantinople ; happy the prince, 
happy the army, which shall achieve the conquest." 

Outside, to the East, is the plain octagon in which 
is laid, alone, the Conqueror Mohammed. The great 
turban hangs over the head, a heavy velvet pall over 
the chest which contains the coffin. Two big brass 
candlesticks, a Koran copied by the hand of the Con- 
queror himself, in a reliquary a tooth of the prophet : that 
is all the tiirbeh contains. But the simplicity is, for 
this generation at least, spoilt by the " thorough restora- 
tion " the whole has received, and its brightness of new 
paint. Mohammed, of all the sultans, remains alone 
in his glory. There are other tiirbehs round his, his 
mother, his wife, the wife of Abdul Hamid I., who is 
said to have been a Creole from Martinique, and the 
schoolfellow of the Empress Josephine — she was the 
mother of MahmM II. — these and others throng 
the enclosure. But the memory of Mohammed is 
still unchallenged among all his successors, and still 
pilgrims, hour by hour, stand on the broad marble 
step and look reverently within on his last resting- 

If Mohammed's mosque has the greatest historic 
interest, by far the most splendid of all in StambOl 
is the great Suleimaniyeh, the mosque of Suleiman the 
Magnificent. It crowns the third hill as Mohammed's 
crowns the fourth. It was built by Sinan ; but it 
would seem that he was throughout ordered to copy S. 
Sophia. Justinian, when he entered his great church, 
had said, " Solomon, I have surpassed thee " : Suleiman 
was determined that he would surpass the Christian 

His mosque owes not only its design but its details 
to Christian sources. Much of the marble, and most 


The Story of Constantinople 

notably the great marble pillars, came from the Church 
of S. Euphemia at Chalcedon. 

Westwards is the large fore-court, surrounded by 
cloisters, covered by twenty-four small domes. It is 
much larger than most of the mosque-courts. In the 
midst is a fountain, with a dome above. There are 
four minarets at the corners of the cloisters. The 
mosque itself, like S. Sophia, is nearly square — 225 
by 205 feet. The central dome rests on four piers, 
and four great shafts support the side arches of the 
dome. The great dome is not so large as that of 
S. Sophia ; but the effect from the outside is far more 
beautiful owing to the skilful grouping of the masses 
of smaller domes, with the four minarets rising from 
among the trees. Architects have praised the exquisite 
adjustment of all the parts of the building ; and, 
indeed, its combination of grace with vastness is 
apparent to the dullest eye. But its general effect is 
spoilt, like that of all the greater mosques, by paint. 
The colour confuses ; the four tints are a meaningless 
disturbance ; the eye finds it hard to distinguish the 
real splendour of marble, in mihrab, minber, and the 
Sultan's chamber. The brightness of the windows, 
line though the glass is, distracts. Most of all the 
endless wires and cords stretched across and from above 
prevent any clear view of the whole. But, none the 
less, it is a splendid building, very solemn and noble, 
expressive of the best that Islam can give, in its 
consecration of strength and riches to the highest 

Outside are the two splendid tUrbehs of the most 
dramatic figures in Turkish history since the Conquest. 
Suleiman himself lies in a beautiful domed octagon, 
the walls covered with intricate arabesques, the roof, 
especially, beautiful in brown. A blue inscription on 
the white tiles that run round the walls is in exquisite 


Mosques^ Tilrbehs and Fountains 

taste. At the head of his catafalque is Suleiman's 
white turban with double tufts of heron's feathers. 
Over it are splendid and elaborate shawls, which he 
once wore. 

The same tiirbeh contains the tombs of Suleiman II. 
and Ahmed II. But a stone's throw from it is the 
beautiful tomb of Roxelana, in which a Western poet 
of our time has found inspiration. 

Where rarely sunbeam of the morn, 
Or ev'ning moonbeam ever stray'd, 

Above the ground she trod in scorn, 
Here, draped in samite and brocade, 
Behold the great Sultana laid, 

Of all her fleeting greatness shorn ! 

The walls are covered with exquisite blue tiles, with 
beautiful designs of almond and tulip. Happily this 
tiirbeh has not been restored as have so many of them. 
It remains a gem of the best Moslem art. The 
group of buildings seen as one descends from the hill 
on which the Seraskierat stands, or from the tower, 
has a charming effect. The cypresses mingling with 
the domes and minarets make the most peaceful scene 
that Stambiil can show. In the city of trees and 
gardens, of domes and minarets, this seems the picture 
typical of the whole as the Moslems have made it. 
Here is, one feels, the true poetic East, the home 
of the poets we have read. We might be in the 
Arabian Nights, 

Whilst there o'er mosque and minaret 
That rise against the sunset glow, 

broods the great calm of a nation of fatalists. It is 
not the " purple East " we see, but the soft, somnolent, 
sensuous splendour of a great repose, or may be a great 


The Story of Constanti?iople 

Third of the great mosques I should place that of 
Ahmed, which, with its large enclosures, encroaches 
on the old Hippodrome. It may well be considered 
the most truly oriental of them all. " The master- 
piece of Asiatic art " some call it, the highest achieve- 
ment of Mussulman architecture. Something it owes 
to its position, fronted by the long, broad, open space ; 
something, certainly, to those who know, to its historic 
associations. But undoubtedly in its general plan and 
in the detail of its decoration it is more clearly than 
the others a work of the genius of the East. 

It covers a vast space. The great court which 
surrounds it seems constantly to be filled with a great 
market. It is in the heart of life : crowds are constantly 
passing through, pilgrims from S. Sophia, travellers who 
have turned in from the Hippodrome. The air of the 
buyers and sellers is more dilettante than that of the serious 
folk who make their homely purchases among the stalls 
outsicle the great mosque of Mohammed 1 1 . This seems 
an oriental scene decked out for your amusement. But 
the place has a long and tragic history. Part of the 
area covered by the buildings of the mosque was once 
occupied by the great palace of the Emperors ; part was 
the Hippodrome; here too, probably, was the Augustaeuni. 
It was not for more than a hundred years after the 
conquest that the Turks built upon this site. Then 
(1608-14) Ahmed I. determined to raise a memorial 
of his piety finer than any of his predecessors had 
achieved, and if it might be, by a propitiatory offering, 
to stay the decline which had already begun to fall 
upon the Empire. He worked himself at the building, 
it is said, and paid the workmen with his own hands. 
The fore-court has a beautiful fountain. The interior 
of the mosque itself is larger than the Suleimaniyeh. 
Its fault is sameness. Fergusson, whose judgment is 
not always to be quoted, may here speak without con- 


Mosques^ Tiirbehs and Fountains 

tradiction. "If the plan were divided into quarters, 
each of the four quar- 
ters would be found 
to be identical, and the . 
effect is consequently i|^f 
painfully mechanical 
and prosaic. The 
design of each wall jf^ 
is also nearly the same ; 
they have the same 
number of windows 
spaced in the same 
manner, and the side 
of the Kibleh ^ is 
scarcely more richly 
decorated than ilic 
others.'* The pre- 
vailing blue of th<; 
whole becomes op- 
pressive. There are 
some exquisite tiles ; 
but the effect of the 
whole mosque is spoilt, 
like that of Suleiman, 
by the paint. Yet with 
all its defects the size 
makes the mosque 
magnificent. " A hall 
nearly two hundred 
feet square, with a 
stone roof supported 
by only four great 
fluted piers, is a 
grand and imposing 
object.'"' Fergusson's judgment must be accepted. 

*/.*. where the Mihrab shows the direction of Mecca. 



The Story of Constantinople 

At the same time there are many points that no one 
who has seen them will ever forget. One is the view 
as you stand under the great columns of the arched 
court and look up at the almost innumerable domes, 
rising dome upon dome to the great central cupola that 
dominates them all, the one minaret that you sec 
breaking the monotonous gradadon of the domes by 
its sheer, sharp ascent into the sky. Another is the 
colossal strength of the four great piers from which 
spring the arches of the central cupola, immense in 
their solidity, yet hardly so clumsy as you think at first 
when you gaze from under them at the more graceful 
pillars of the outer arcade. 

Of details that repay attention, the chief door into 
the mosque, typically eastern, stands out. The six 
minarets, seen from far, are the most graceful of all 
in the city. Ahmed in building six encroached on 
the unique dignity of Mecca. The sherif pro- 
tested, and the Sultan added a seventh to the sacred 
shrine. His own mosque remains the only one with 

Within, the later history of the Turks invests the 
scene with a new interest. It was from the splendid 
marble pulpit that t\\Gfetva decreeing the abolition of the 
Janissaries was read, while Mahmud stood in his box. 
It was round the mosque that much of the fiercest 
fighting took place that day. Bodies were heaped up 
before the gate of the court, and from the great 
sycamore, still standing, and called "the tree of 
groans," hung corpses " like the black fruit of a 
tree in hell." 

These three are the most splendid of the mosques. 
Next to them ranks the mosque of Bayezid II. It 
was built between 1489 and 1497, and the architect 
was the son of Christodoulos, who built the mosque 
named after the Conqueror, Bayezid's father. The 

Mosques^ Tiirbehs and Fountains 

two sons designed to surpass their father. It cannot 
be said that they succeeded. The mosque itself has 
little interest. The fountain in the court does not 
equal those of Ahmed and Suleiman. But the place 
will always be visited for the name, which the travellers 
give it, of the Pigeons' Mosque. A poor widow, says 
the legend, offered a pair of pigeons to Bayezid for the 
mosque. These hundreds are their offspring, and they 
have always been held sacred. They fly about, settle 
everywhere on the roofs, walk over the floor, and sur- 
round in an instant everyone who takes up a hand- 
ful of grain. They divide the honours of the court 
witli the sellers of trivial ornaments, and the profes- 
sional letter-writers, whom one may spend a merry 
half hour in watching, as they formally express the 
feelings which the lover, or the applicant for a post 
under government, is rightly supposed to possess, and is 
anxious to have set forth for him. 

The mosque of Bayezid owes something of its 
attraction to its position, looking on two sides upon 
a wide open space, with the wall and gate of the 
Seraskierat only a few yards away. To the east is the 
great garden, which contains the tiirbeh of Bayezid him- 
self, witli a catafalque thirteen feet long. 

Of the hundreds of mosques, each with its own 
cliaracteristic design or adornment or history, stand 
out for a word of admiration, those of the Shahzadeh, 
of Selim I., of the Yeni Valideh, and that called the 
Tulip Mosque. 

The mosque of the Shahzadeh, built like that of 
Suleiman, by the Moslem architect Sinan, was erected 
by the Sultan and Roxelana, between 1543 and 1547, 
to commemorate their eldest son, whose tiirbeh stands 
beside it, decorated with the most exquisite Persian 
tiles. The mosque is on the great central street that 
runs through Stambul. Four semi-domes culminate in 


Ihe Story of Constantinople 

a great central dome, and four great octagonal pillars 
support it. It is one of the most beautiful of the 
Ottoman mosques. It may be added that the mosque 
which the sorrowing parents built to their youngest son 
Djanghir (see above p. 170), at Galuta, above Top- 
Haneh, was burnt in 1764, and as it now stands is the 
result of " restoration " by the present Sultan. It is 
the most prominent object on the shore as one draws 
near to landing at the Galata bridge. 

On the fifth hill, and perhaps the most prominent 
object in the view from the hill of Pera, above the 
petit champ des morts, is the mosque of Selim I. 
The style is simple, one vast dome resting on a drum 
lighted by many windows, and supported by flying 

The Tulip Mosque, Laleli Djami, stands in a 
prominent position in a crowded street, the Koska 
Sokaki. It is an example of the more modern style. 
It was built by Mustapha III. in 1760-63, and shows 
the Turkish expression of the Strawberry-Hill interest 
in antiquity. It contains columns from the palace of 
Boucoleon and the forum of Theodosius. Beside it is 
the tiirbeh of Mustafa III. and of Selim III. Per- 
haps the most pleasant part of a visit here is to stand 
on the terrace and look over the houses on to the 
Sea of Marmora and the distant snow-covered 

The last mosque I shall mention is that which the 
traveller probably first visits. It attracts him as soon 
as he has crossed the Galata bridge, and most likely 
turns him aside from his way to S. Sophia. It is 
the mosque of Yeni Valideh Sultan, the wife of 
Ahmed I. Begun by her orders in 161 5, it was 
completed by the mother of Mohammed IV. in 

This, of all others, aroused the admiration of Lady 



Mosques^ Tiirbehs and Fountains 

Mary Wortley Montagu. " The most prodigious, and 
I think, the most imposing, structure I ever saw," 
she called it ; perhaps because she regarded it as a 
tribute to her sex. Unhappily, as in most of the other 
mosques, paint and whitewash have done their dis- 
figuring work ; but the beauty of its tiles, most of 
them blue and white, is perhaps superior to any other 
collection in the city. The exquisite carving of the 
doorways, too, enriched with mother-of-pearl, attracts 
one as one passes through. In no other mosque can 
the excellence of the minute Turkish work be better 
studied. The delicacy of the lattice work at the 
fountain, too, is admirable. 

So much may I say of the mosques. But a word 
more is needed for their inseparable attendants. By 
the Valideh mosque, begun by one sultanas mother, 
after whose murder it was completed by her rival, is 
the great tiirbeh which contains, in two chambers, a 
host of princes and princesses, and five sultans — Mo- 
hammed IV., deposed in 1687, who died in 1693 ; 
Mustafa II., deposed in 1703 ; Ahmed III., deposed 
in 1730; Mahmud I., 1754; and Osman III., 1757. 
Of these, the last two alone died peaceably in pos- 
session of the throne. 

One other tiirbeh besides those I have named claims 
especial mention. It is that of MahmM II., the Re- 
former, and it stands by itself near the Column of Con- 
stantine. It is the most modern in date and style, a 
domed octagon of white marble lighted by seven win- 
dows, an atrocious example of the style which our 
grandfathers thought rich and dignified. At the right 
as one enters lies the mother of Mahmud. In the 
midst is the Reformer himself, a black pall, elaborately 
worked, thrown over the catafalque. At the head is, 
for the first time, the fez, the symbol of the reform, 
but it has attached, as of old, the great tuft of heron's 

U 305 

The Story of Constantinople 

feathers. At the left is the resting-place of Abdul 
Aziz, again with a splendid covering, and at the head 
a simple fez. The last of the dead sultans— for Murad 
cannot be counted— who entered as none of his prede- 
cessors had done into the social life as well as the 
politics of European courts, yet was deposed and 


died a violent death, fitly ends the list. As you 
stand by his coffin you sec the lesson of Turkish 
history for to-day. Outwardly, save for the fez, 
all is as with the sultans five centuries ago : and the 
spirit of Turkish life has not changed, and will not 

change. i i i j a 

[ts worst expression is recalled in the blood and 
luxury which are linked with the names of these two 

Mosques^ Tiirbebs and Fountains 

sultans. Its best is at- 
tached to the one other 
architectural feature of the 
city which I must mention 
in this place. One of the 
most beautiful and most 
characteristic sights that 
strikes the western travel- 
ler as he wanders through 
Stambul is the fountain 
outside every mosque and 
at almost every street cor- 
ner. Hundreds of them 
are worth lingering over. 
Here I will only mention 
one. Outside the Bab- 
i-Hunayiin, the gate upon 
which the heads of so 
many disgraced officials 
have been placed, and 
under the shadow of S. 
Sophia, is the most beau- 
tiful of all, designed by 
Ahmed I. himself. White 
marble it is, with beautiful 
arabesques and elaborate 
inscriptions in those grace- 
ful elaborations of kali- 
graphy in which the 
Turks have always ex- 
celled. It is the most 
elaborate of all the foun- 
tains, but the little ones 
at the street corners, with 
an arched or domical pent- 
house above them and 





The Story of Constantinople 

some small decorative inscription above the marble 
founts, have a simple charm of their own. 

As one turns away from the Turkish buildings and 
tries to sum up the impressions which the architecture 
represented by the mosques of Constantinople leaves 
on the student of other styles, there are criticisms 
which are natural and inevitable. How little variety, 
we say ; how tiresome, this similarity of design ! The 
Turks indeed have felt it themselves, but they have 
been unable to set themselves free. For indeed the 
lack is the hopeless one, the sheer absence of origin- 
ality, in every feature. We may call one mosque more 
eastern than another, but it would puzzle us to find a 
single feature in any of them, except the Mihrab, which 
is not ultimately Christian. The feeling, it is true, 
differs ; but that will be felt, by Westerns at least, to be 
a conspicuous defect. There is no sense of the mystery 
that lies behind all life, the solemn awe in which alone 
man may fitly draw nigh to God. All is clear, com- 
plete, satisfied, protestant of its completeness and satis- 
faction. Ts there anything, one feels, beyond man and 
this world ? Certainly here there is nothing to raise 
thought to heaven, to help to pierce behind the veil. 
Is it fanciful to say that something of this it is that 
makes the difference between the windows of a Christian 
church and those of a mosque ? The mosques have win- 
dows of the plainest, ugliest, most staring. Can anything 
be more pitiable than the windows of Ahmed^s, the char- 
acteristic Turkish mosque ? No tracery, no stained glass, 
nothing that uplifts or separates from the outer world. 

Yet to all this there must be a corresponding gain. 
From this absorption in the things of the present, this 
satisfaction with the work of men's hands, comes often 
a real perfection of detail. How often the fore-court 
is an admirable piece of building, worth examination 
and imitation at every point ! Yet even here there 

Mosques^ Tilrbehs and Fountains 

is the exception that detracts from the merit of all 
Southern '* pointed " work : the arches will not remain 
firm of themselves, they must needs be tied together 
with cross beams. How sordid and untidy this looks 
one sees in a moment as one stands in the court of the 
Valideh mosque. But the detail, we must insist, is 
often good, the niches notably so in the "stalactite 
pattern," which also appears in the capitals of late 
date of sixteenth and seventeenth century build- 
ing, as in the courts of Ahmed and Valideh. Yet 
when all this is said, the chief glory of the mosques, 
the best and most original feature of the Mos- 
lem art as we see it in Constantinople, is the ex- 
quisite tile-work everywhere and of every date. It 
brings us back again, as we end this chapter, to the 
magnificent Sultan and his proud wife. The choicest 
art surrounds the tomb of the Circassian, and there 

The walls that shut thee from the sun, 
The potter's art made bright with blue, 

Where leaf and tendril overrun 
The Persian porcelain's ivory hue, 

And blazon'd letters, twisting thro' 
Proclaim there is no God but One. 



The Palaces 

"MO features in the Sultan's city are more prominent 
than the cloud-capped towers and the gorgeous 
palaces. The two towers of Galata and of the Seraskerat 
have a very practical meaning. Perpetual watch is 
kept in them, and warning sent when the fires which 
have so often devastated both Pera and Stambul are 
seen to have begun. The great tower of the Seraskerat, 
built by Mohammed II., standing in the large open 
space in front of the War Office, gives the best detailed 
view of Stambul, and one sees how truly it is not only 
a city of gardens but a thoroughly Oriental city. The 
bazaars, the khans, the mosques, and here and there an 
old Byzantine house can be clearly distinguished ; and 
the seven hills, so puzzling to the traveller on foot, 
stand out plainly in the forest of building. 

The tower of Galata dates back, in foundation at 
least, to the fifth century ; and when the Genoese 
made their settlement in the suburb it became their 
chief fortress. It was rebuilt and increased in the 
fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. The roof has been 
often burnt, and the present arrangement of four cir- 
cular chambers, diminishing as they ascend, is that of 
Abdul Mejid. Seen from the street below the Petit 
Champ des Morts, it is picturesque and imposing. 
From it is the splendid view over the whole city and 
far into Asia and the range of Olympus. 

The Palaces 

Between these towers, so plain and practical, and 
the luxurious palaces of the Sultans, the public offices 
form a convenient link. Some are modern of the 
modern, comfortable, and -_- rj_^- - 

even comparatively clean, 
like the great building of 
the Ottoman Debt, on the 
finest site in Stambul, with 
magnificent views of the 
city and the harbour. 
Some, like the Sublime 
Porte, have a certain 
leisurely dignity, as of 
the eighteenth century in 
Italy, but taw 
decaying. Some 
Ef-kaf — the ministi 
religious foundations, close /''^i 
to S. Sophia — are mere %__^.:;^^:«y^_ ,1^^^-^, ^ 
collections of rooms, half ^" iiiv^J'^^^'Si'^'^?;??^' 
ruined, the abode of count- . '-^\'i-l~%'^\^^l'^^'^^''^-i^^ 
less officials and petitioners, 
of squalor and dirt. 

How long will it be 
before the group of build- 
ings now called the Old 
Seraglio follow in the 
same way ? Already the 
outer court, with the tree 
of the Janissaries, and the 
Church of S. Irene, bear 
a desolate unkempt ap- 
pearance, such as one soon 
learns to associate with everything that belongs to 
Turkish officialdom. There are few spots in Europe 
that have a longer or more tragic history. This 



i,.-.-5 J"* 

- ^r^^^:~^ '*»a=c^£^<: 


The Story of Constantinople 

once was the Akropolis of Byzantium. When 
first the Turks took the city the Sultan lived in 
the Eski Serai, the "old palace/* which was on 
the site now occupied by the Seraskierat. But 
in 1 468 Mohammed began to build here a summer 
palace, which after much enlargement became under 
Suleiman I. the chief palace of the Sultans, and was 
occupied by them till in 1839 Abdul Mejid finally 
removed to Dolma bagtche. 

The outer court can be freely visited ; though during 
the last year entrance has been several times refused 
to me at the most convenient approach, the Bab-i- 
Humayiin, a tiresome restriction which is no more 
than an inconvenience, as one may walk freely through 
the lower gate. In niches on each side of the Bab-i- 
Humayiin were often placed the heads of viziers whom 
the Sultans had sacrificed to their own jealousy or to 
the demands of the Janissaries. Above is a small 
square room where Mahmud waited all day on the 
fateful 16th of June 1826, for news of the fight raging 
in the streets against the Janissaries. Above the gate 
is an inscription placed by Mohammed the Conqueror : 
" God shall make eternal the glory of its builder. 
God shall strengthen his work. God shall support 
his foundations." In the bare space between the 
outer and inner gates there is nothing to notice except 
the fateful tree, and the splendid sarcophagi outside 
S. Irene, which are said to have come from the 
Church of the Holy Apostles. Thence we go 
through an avenue up to the Middle Gate, Orta Kapou. 

Coming the other way, through the lower gate, Souk 
Cheshmeh Kapou, we leave the Museum Chinili Kiosk 
to the left. To the right of the Bab-i-Humayun is 
the GUI Kkaneh Kiosk, where Abdul Mejid issued his 
great hatt't sherifm the presence of representatives of 
all the religions of the empire (see above, p. 219). 

7 be Palaces 

Beyond the Orta Kapou no one may pass except by 
special irade from the Sultan. This can only be 
obtained through the Embassy. Of recent years it is 
rarely refused ; but it is usual to make a party, for the 
expense is large. Some five pounds or so must be given 
in presents. The visitors are treated as the Sultanas 
guests, are placed under charge of an imperial aide-de- 
camp, are refreshed with coffee and roseleaf jam in one 

of the kiosks, and taken on, usually, to the modern 
palaces of Dolma bagtche and Beylerbey. The Orta 
Kapou is strictly guarded. Here one must walk, for 
only a Sultan may enter on horseback. On the right 
was the room in which the Christian envoys waited till 
the Sultan pleased to send out clothes in which alone 
they might appear before him. As they came forth the 
Janissaries, ranged in military order, " darted like 
arrows " at the food placed before them in their 
kettles, a quaint custom intended to impress the 

The Story of Constantinople 

foreigner with the feeling that he was in the power 
of a still savage people. At the left was the room 
where Viziers were beheaded. 

The court of the divan, now neglected, is the place 
where the ministers discussed, and the Sultans, when 
they would, listened from a latticed window. To the 
right were the vast kitchens. Then comes the Bab-i- 
s'addet. Gate of Felicity, which leads to what was 
once the Serai, the royal palace with its harem, which 
the Italians called Seraglio. It was through this gate 
that Murad IV. in 1632 walked alone to face the 
rebels, and hushed them to obedience, and that in 
1808 the dead body of Selim III. was thrown out 
to the Pacha Bairakdar (see p. 201), and that a few 
days later the corpse of his murderer, Mustafa IV., was 
carried forth to burial. 

Within, we are among a maze ot small buildings, 
without dignity but not altogether without beauty. 
They represent the caprice of sultan after sultan, and 
of their ladies. First we see the Arz Odassi, the 
throne room, built by Suleiman I., where on a large 
couch, like a great bed, the Sultans reposing on cushions 
received their ministers and the foreign envoys. Here 
the first French ambassadors were received by Sulei- 
man, and here in 1 568 Elizabeth's envoy sought 
assistance against Spain. Here again is a lattice be- 
hind which the Sultan could sit, if he would assume 
the state of the unapproachable Oriental. 

Next we cross a deserted garden, and pass through 
neglected courts till we reach the library, a single room, 
built by Mustafa III., with a beautiful bronze door, 
in which are many unknown MSS. treasures. Next 
is the Khazna, the treasury, which is opened only 
by the second in authority of the imperial eunuchs, 
while a crowd of black-coated and fezzed officials 
stand on each side. It were idle to enumerate the 

The Palaces 

treasures. The visitor rarely has time properly to 
examine tliem. But one cannot fail to note the 



Persian throne of gold, set with hundreds of precious 
stones, and the beautiful Turkish divan which belonged 


The Story of Constantinople 

to Ahmed I. On the staircase leading to the gallery 
which contains this last treasure are medallion por- 
traits of the Sultans, interesting enough but perhaps 
of the same historic value as, though of far superior 
artistic excellence to, the portraits of the Scots 
Kings at Holyrood. Of similar interest and closer 
authenticity are the line state costumes of the Sultans 
from Mohammed II. to Mahmud the Reformer. 
The robes are exquisite examples of the richest eastern 
work in brocade and silk, and the weapons are of the 
finest design. Cases on the walls contain splendid 
collections of jewels, and some magnificent armour, 
notably that worn by Murad IV. at the capture of 
Bagdad in 1638. 

There are three buildings within this part of the 
grounds which no one may approach. The one 
contains the relics of the prophet. We see the 
entrance with its massive door and elaborate tiles. 
We know that inside are the mantle, the sacred 
standard, the beard and a tooth of the prophet, and 
an impression in limestone of his foot. Beyond this 
again is the old harem, now unused. And not far 
off is the Kafess, the luxurious retreat of dethroned 
sultans, which has often been mentioned in these pages 
— the scene perhaps of the worst and vilest crimes 
of the Ottomans. 

It is with kindlier associations that we approach 
the beautiful kiosk of Bagdad, whose walls, with 
their beautiful tiles, doors of the finest inlaid 
work, and carpets of the richest design, place 
us in an ideal Eastern scene. It is a copy, they 
say, of a kiosk Murad IV. saw at Bagdad. 
Pity that it is now only a show. Here or in 
the Mejidiyeh kiosk looking on the Marmora 
and up the Golden Horn, comes the refection, 
and we fancy ourselves again, but for the officials 

The Palaces 

In their to us most inappropriate costume,^ in the 
Arabian Nights. 

So back again and we drive round at break-neck 
pace, the driver shouting and cracking his whip all 
the way, across the Galata Bridge, along that wretched 
dirty lane called the *' grande rue de Galata," past 
Top-haneh and the modern Valideh Mosque, to 
the palace of Dolma bagtche. It is the work of 
Abdul Mejid. It is vast, white, elaborate : it has 
aroused enthusiasm among personages who might 
have been expected to know better : it was from 
this gorgeous abode that Abdul Aziz was hurried 
across to the old Seraglio at his deposition : some 
state functions are still performed here. That is really 
all that one would like to say. The bewildering, 
dazzling, costly decorations, the pictures that Abdul 
Aziz so much admired, the mirrors and candelabra, 
the abundance of everything that is ugly and ex- 
pensive, represent nothing in the world but a taste 
which has tried to graft on orientalism the worst 
ideas of the early Victorian age and the Second Empire. 

Of Cheragan, where Abdul Aziz died and perhaps 
the last Sultan still lingers, I cannot speak. No one 
is now admitted. Let the enthusiastic dc Amicis 
express, in his account of it, what wc feel as we 
leave Dolma bagtche. 

" Nothing of all the splendour remains in my 
memory except the Sultan's bath, made of whitest 
marble, sculptured with pendent flowers and stalactites, 
and decorated with fringes and delicate embroideries 
that one feared to touch, so fragile did they seem. 
The disposition of the rooms reminded me vaguely of 
the Alhambra. Our steps made no sound upon the 
rich carpets spread everywhere. Now and then an 

1 It is simply that of an English clergyman with high 
waistcoat and straight collar — and a fez 1 

The Story of Constantinople 

eunuch pulled a cord, and a green curtain rose and 
displayed the Bosphorus, Asia, a thousand ships, a 
great light ; and then all vanished again, as in a flash 
of lightning. The rooms seemed endless, and as each 
door appeared we hastened our steps ; but a profound 
silence reigned in every part, and there was no vestige 
of any living being, nor rustle of garment save the 
sound made by the silken door-curtains as they fell 
bciiind. At last we were weary of that endless 
journey from one splendid empty room to another, 
seeing ourselves reflected in great mirrors, with the 
black faces of our guides and the group of silent 
servants, and were thankful to find ourselves again in 
the free air, in the midst of the ragged, noisy denizens 
of Tophane." 

The present Sultan, as all the world knows, lives in 
Yildiz Kiosk, a building erected by himself, on the 
hills above the Bosphorus. He has gradually re- 
stricted his public appearances within the narrowest 
limits possible to a Sultan. Only once a year does he 
now cross to Stambul, to pay, on the i 5th of Ramazan, 
homage to the Prophet's mantle in its chamber in the 
old Seraglio. Once a week, on Friday, he goes to 
the mosque he has built just outside his palace grounds. 
A card from the Embassy admits to a house provided 
by the Sultan which gives a good view of his cere- 
monial procession to his official prayers. As a sur- 
vival, or as the modern expression of the power and 
obligation of the Khalif,the Commander of the Faithful, 
it is a sight not to be missed. The massed thousands 
of splendid troops, as fine a body of men as any 
soldiers in the world, the pilgrims from the far East, 
the holy men of the Mohammedan faith, admitted to 
the best positions and treated with the most profound 
reverence, the gathering of ladies from the harem in 
closed carriages surrounded by eunuchs, and of little 


Ihe Palaces 

princes in gay uniforms, at last the coming of the 
Sultan himself, in the most prosaic of European 
costumes, surmounted by a fez, with his officials pre- 
ceding and following his carriage — that is the ceremony 
to-day which centuries ago foreigners watched rarely 
and with awe, if not with terror. The times have 
changed; and the man. 




MEEDLESS to say, the antiquities of Constantinople 
would take for their description not one but many 
books. Archaeologists will read as well as see for 
themselves. Let me merely call attention to some of 
the prominent archaeological remains which no one will 
wish to miss. They are the living memorials of the 
great past. 

And first the Hippodrome. So much has already 
been said of it that here I shall only give the barest 
description of what we see to-day. And first be it 
noted that the space now open is probably no more 
than two-fifths of the original Hippodrome. The 
mosque of Sultan Ahmed encroached on the east ; 
other buildings on the west. The area of the ancient 
Hippodrome has been estimated at 25,280 square yards. 
The present space is not more than 216 yards in length 
and 44 across. Secondly, it must not be forgotten that 
the present level is about 10 feet above the original 
pavement. Some indication of this is given by the feet 
that the bases of the columns, excavated by British 
officers during the Crimean war, are still considerably 
below the ground outside the railings. 

Gyllius gives a long account of the Hippodrome as 

it was in his day, a century or so after the Turkish 

Conquest. The Egyptian obelisk, the Colossus, and 

the serpent column stood then as they stand now ; but 



X 3*1 


there then remained also sevcntten white piJJars at the 
north-east, the iron rings still fixed to the tops from 
which awnings were liung. Columns, pillars, benches, 
remained here and there ; but desolation and ruin had 
already fallen upon the scene. " The Hippodrome," 
he wrote, " is desolate, stripped of all its ornaments ; 
and they have lately begun to build upon it. At the 
sight of it I was filled with grief." The Crusaders 
in 1204 destroyed a vast number of precious works 
of ancient ait which adorned the site : the destruc- 
tion was completed by the Turks. The famous 
bronze horses of Lysippus, which stood as ornaments 
of the imperial seat, were taken to Venice after the 
Latin Conquest, and stand to-day outside S. Mark's. 

We see now only a great open space, thick in dust, 
from which rise three striking monuments. At the 
north-east, whence we enter from S. Sophia, is the 
Egyptian obelisk. This was brought from Heliopolis 
by Theodosius, and was erected in the position which 
it has ever since retained. He placed it upon a 
pedestal of marble and granite, upon which are 
elaborate reliefs of the fourth century, representing 
scenes in the Hippodrome. On the north are the 
bringing the obelisk to the Hippodrome and the 
placing it in position, and above it a representation of 
the imperial family watcliing the games, Theodosius 
in the midst, with Honorius and Arcadius and 
attendants, with the Labarum, the ensign of the 
Eastern Empire, above. On the west is a Greek 
inscription recording the difficulty of the erection ; a 
corresponding Latin one is on the east. It may be 
worth while to give the verse translation of the old 
translator of Gyllius : 

" To raise this four square pillar to its height, 
And fix it steady on its solid base, 
Great Theodosius tried, but tried in vain. 


The Story of Constantinople 

In two and thirty days, by Proclus' skill 

The toilsome work, with great applause, was done." 

Above the Greek inscription on the west side arc 
other representations of the spectators at the games, 
including the Empress. The south side gives a 
chariot race round the low wall (spina), which divided 
the Hippodrome in the midst and on which the 
monuments stood. Above is another representation 
of the imperial family in their Kathisma. On the east, 
above the Latin inscription, arc shown two rows of 
spectators, the Emperor in the upper, with a wreath 
for the winner of the race. The sculptures are worth 
the closest attention, as they are among the finest 
remains of the fourth century that we possess. The 
minuteness of the detail, in the representation of the 
persons with their official garb, is of the greatest 
historical interest. 

A few paces further on is the famous Serpent 
column (see above, p. it). Nothing in Constanti- 
nople, perhaps in the world, has such a history. 
The three heads have long disappeared : one is in 
the Museum. When they were taken away is doubt- 
ful. Tradition makes Mohammed cut off one on the 
day of the conquest ; but Gyllius certainly speaks as 
if they were still intact in his day ** Made of brass, 
not fluted," he says of the pillar, ** but wreathed 
around with the foldings of three serpents like those 
we see in great ropes. The heads of these serpents 
are placed in a triangular form and rise very high 
upon the shaft of the pillar." The column removed 
from Delphi by Constantine bore, at its first making, 
the golden tripod which the Greeks consecrated to 
Apollo after the victory over Xerxes at Plataea. The 
names of the cities inscribed on the coils may still 
be traced in fragments. Canon Curtis, in " Broken Bits 
of Byzantium," part ii., gives tracings of five of them. 




Further on, and nearest to the Museum of the Jan- 
issaries, is the Colossus, which is more than half as 
high again as the obeHsk. It rests upon a base with 
three steps. It was once covered with brazen plates 
riveted with iron pins. In the time of Gyllius 
it was already " despoiled of its outward beauteous 
appearance, and discovers only the workmanship of 
its inside, as having felt the effects of the avarice 
and rapine of the barbarians." All the columns 
were, during the days of the Empire, regarded as 
great treasures. The obelisk was restored by Con- 
stantine Porphyrogenitus. 

These are the most important of the monuments. 
But four others need mention. The Column of Con- 
stantine, of porphyry bound together by bronze rings, 
stands in a prominent position at the summit of the 
second hill, a short distance from the Hippodrome, 
It was Constantine's own special memorial of his foun- 
dation of the city, and it was yearly the scene of a 
solemn service of thanksgiving conducted by the patri- 
arch in the presence of the emperor. It was in the 
main street of Byzantium, and every public ceremonial 
was in some way connected with it. Damaged in the 
eleventh century, it was restored by Manuel Conmenus 
( 1 143- 1 1 80), whose inscription marks the marble 
which he placed at the top of the column. It has 
constantly suffered from fire, and well deserves its com- 
mon name of the burnt column. 

While the column of Constantine is one of the pro- 
minent monuments in the city, there are three others 
much more rarely seen. The column of Theodosius 
is, happily safe in the Seraglio garden. Its inscription 



The Story of Constantinople 

may refer to victories of Theodosius in 381, but 
more probably carries us back as far as the time of 
Claudius Gothicus and the battle of Nissa, 269. It 
is fifty feet high, and is said to have supported a 
golden statue of Theodosius. According to legend 
a pillar-saint lived on it for twenty years. Certainly it 
was used for a grimmer purpose, for the Latins in 
12O4 dashed from its summit the usurper Alexius 

The column of Marcian, not far from the Et 
Meidan, where the Janissaries were destroyed, is hard 
to find ; it is in a garden belonging to a Turkish private 
house. It is of granite with a marble capital. The 
column of Arcadius, of which only the base remains, 
is at Avret Bazar on the seventh hill. 

Next to the columns the most interesting antiquities 
are the aqueducts and cisterns. The aqueduct of Valens, 
built in 366 of stone from the walls of Chalcedon, is a 
conspicuous object in the view from the hill of Pera. 
It has been constantly repaired and restored, and it still 
carries water. It now extends from near the east of 
the mosque of Mohammed II. very nearly to the 
Seraskerat. The way from the mosque back to the 
bridge passes under it, and gives a good view of its 
construction and its picturesque, overgrown, half- 
ruined state. This and the other aqueducts (one of 
which may be seen near Edirn^ Kapoussi) brought 
water from the distant hills, which was stored in vast 
cisterns, many of which still remain. Three at least 
are worth a visit. Tiie most beautiful are the work 
of Philoxenus ; and chief is that which the Turks call 
Yeri Batan Serai — the underground cistern — but more 
generally known is that fancifully called Bin Bir Derek, 
cistern of looi columns. I may repeat what I have 
said of them elsewhere.^ 

* Chunh of the Sixth Century, pp. 298-301 


" The latter is now empty, and the sixteen rows of 
fourteen columns each can be closely examined. It 
has been considered as exhibiting *the highest de- 
velopment of the art of cistern building/ and thus 

* in its particular sphere ' resembling S. Sophia ; 

* like it the boldness of the construction was ne?er 
again equalled by the Byzantines.* ^ The capitals 
are not as a rule highly ornamented, but some have 
monograms which are repeated in S. Sophia. Impres- 
sive though this great building is, it is not nearly so 
striking as the awful gloom of the Yeri Batan Serai 
(the Underground Palace) — the Basilike. There 
seems little doubt that this is the cistern alluded to 
by Procopius,2 ^s made by Justinian under the Portico 
of the Basilica. * It is still in perfect preservation, 
with the entire roof intact ; its three hundred and 
thirty-six columns, twelve feet apart, arranged in 
twenty-eight symmetric rows, stand each in place, 
crowned by a finely wrought capital ; it still serves 
its original purpose, supplying water from the aqueduct 
of Valens in as copious measure as of old.' ^ The 
capitals here are elaborately carved, in endless variety, 
and in the very finest style of the age. Darkness, 
immensity, and the colossal size of the columns seen 
in the flickering torchlight, make this one of tlie most 
impressive memorials of the sixth century. It is below 
ground what S. Sophia is above.'* 

They both belong, as Forchheimer and Strzygowski 
have incontestably shown, to the age of Justinian. The 
capitals of the columns of the Bin Bir Derek are much 
plainer than those of the Yeri Batan Serai. Strzygowski 
thinks that there the new impost capital was first used. 

1 Forchheimer and Strzygowski (quoted by Lethaby and 
Swainson, p. 248). 
« Dt JEdif, i. II. 
* Grosvenor, CtmtanUnople^ vol. i. p. 399. 


The Story of Constantinople 

•* It is of the widest significance for the history of 
Byzantine art that here throughout the new * impost 
capital ' is employed in its plainest constructive form. 
It seems not improbable that the daring builder of the 
cistern was the first to make use of this form of capital, 
which completely broke with classical tradition, and is 
in such perfect accord with the exigencies of arch- 
architecture." But the analysis of the varieties of 
capital made by Lethaby and Swainson shows that 
the impost capital had probably been in use some 
years before the building of the Bin Bir Derek. 

The descent through a trap door and some worn 
steps from the stableyard of a Turkish house into the 
Yeri Batan Serai, lighted by a torch extemporised of 
sacking steeped in naptha, and wrapped round a pole, 
is an exciting experience. As you look out into the 
darkness you do not wonder that weird stories have 
grown up around its recesses, or that Gyllius who dis- 
covered it has a strange experience to record.^ 

" Through the Carelesness and Contempt of every- 
thing that is curious in the Inhabitants, it was never 
discoverM, but by me, who was a Stranger among them, 
after a long and diligent Search after it. The whole 
Ground was built upon, which made it less suspected 
there was a Cistern there. The People had not the 
least Suspicion of it, although they daily drew their 
Water out of the Wells which were sunk into it. I 
went by Chance into a House, where there was a 
Descent into it, and went aboard a little Skiff. The 
Master of the House, after having lighted some Torches, 
rowing me here and there a-cross, through the Pillars, 
which lay very deep in Water, I made a Discovery of 
it. He was very intent upon catching his Fish, with 
which the Cistern abounds, and spear'd some of them 
by the Light of the Torches. There is also a small 

^ Ball's Translations, 1729, pp. 147-8. 


Light which descends from the Mouth of the Well, and 
reflects upon the Water, where the Fish usually come 
for Air. This Cistern is three hundred and thirty six 
Foot long, a hundred and eighty two Foot broad, and* 
two hundred and twenty four Roman Paces in Com- 
pass. The Roof, and Arches, and Sides, are all 
Brickwork, and cover'd with Terrass, which is not 
the least impaired by Time. The Roof is supported 
with three hundred and thirty six Marble Pillars. 
The Space of Intercolumniation is twelve Foot. 
Each Pillar is above forty Foot nine Inches high. 
They stand lengthways in twelve Ranges, broad- 
ways in twenty-eight. The Capitals of them are 
partly finish'd after the Corinthian Model, and part 
of them not finished. Over the Abacus of every 
Pillar is placed a large Stone, which seems to be 
another Abacus, and supports four Arches. There 
are abundance of Wells which fall into the Cistern. 
I have seen, when it was filling in the Winter-time, 
a large Stream of Water falling from a great Pipe with 
a mighty Noise, till the Pillars, up to the Middle of 
the Capitals, have been cover'd with Water. This 
Cistern stands Westward of the Church of St. Sophia, 
at the Distance of eighty Roman Paces from it." 

One other cistern at least is worth a visit. It is 
that which is approached from the outside of the 
Church of the Studium at its east end. It was origin- 
ally the cistern of the monastery. It is now dry and 
filled with hay. It has a splendid vaulted roof and 
twenty-five columns with beautifully carved Corinthian 

As one wanders through the streets many remains 
of Byzantine building, even in the parts that have 
been almost entirely rebuilt by the Turks, are to be 
seen. There is one especially notable in the long 
street that leads to Top Kapoussi (the gate of S, 


The Story of Constantinople 

Romanus). The great Imperial Palace about which 
antiquaries have waged so fierce a fight, has left not 
one stone upon another ; so I will not rashly utter 
my own opinion of the evidence as to its site. Re- 
mains of only two of the Byzantine palaces are now to 
be found. T?he first is the surely falling wall which 
arrests attention as the traveller by the sea of Marmora 
follows the course of the sea walls before rounding the 
point. It is close to the Church of S. Sergius and 
S. Bacchus, and the identification of it with the house 
of Hormisdas purchased by Justinian, and afterwards 
enlarged by him, may be regarded as certain. It is 
the " palace of the King, which was formerly called 
by the name of Hormisdas,*' of which Procopius says 
that it was once Justinian's private house, " and when 
he became Emperor he made it look worthy of a palace 
by the magnificence of its buildings, and joined it to 
the other imperial apartments." ^ 

It was here that Justinian was living when he had 
determined to fly, crossing the sea to Chalcedon, and 
that Theodora made her heroic and historic speech 
(see p. 33). Now but a single wall remains. Some 
capitals are strewn in the sea near it. A water gate, 
with an inscription evidently referring to the Nika 
sedition, was still standing a few years ago. Canon 
Curtis told me of its interest in 1896: I searched for 
it, but it had absolutely disappeared. The solitary wall 
will probably soon follow it. 

The other palace is one about which the most 
extraordinary mistakes have been made. It is that 
which the Greeks call the house of Belisarius and the 
Turks Tekfur Serai. It is an oblong building of three 
stories, facing north and south, and placed between 
the two walls which descend from the Xylokerkon 
Gate (Kerko-Porta), at which the Theodosian walls 
1 Dt Aedif, i. 4. 

-V 1 J- 

•>' .^' 

-■■^'--fc; — -■ r. :- 








end, towards the Golden Horn. Gyllius believed 
this to be the famous palace of the Hebdomon, and 
nearly all the antiquaries have followed him. Pro- 
fessor Bury, among historians, had shown the impos- 
sibility of this identification ; but it has remained for 
Professor van Millingen conclusively to show it to 
be the palace of the Porphyrogenitus. It was here 
that Andronicus III. resided in 1326 when Andronicus 
II. was at Blachernae. It was here that John 
Cantacuzenc was in 1347 when he negotiated with 
the Empress. Architectural authorities differ as to 
its date. Some have placed it as early as Theodosius 
II., but it much more probably belongs to the tenth 
century and to the work of Constantine Porphyrogenitus. 
It is clearly later than the sixth century work of the 
palace of Hormisdas, being much more elaborate both 
in design and in decoration. The evidence for the 
identification is thus given by Professor van Millingen.^ 

** The evidence for the proper Byzantine name of 
Tekfur Serai, occurs in the passage in which 
Critobolus describes the positions occupied by the 
various divisions of the Turkish army during the siege 
of 1453. According to that authority, the Turkish 
left wing extended from the Xylo-Porta (beside the 
Golden Horn) to the Palace of the Porphyrogenitus, 
which was situated upon a slope, and thence to the 
Gate of Charisius (Edirn^ Kapoussi). The site thus 
assigned to the Palace of the Porphyrogenitus corre- 
sponds exactly to that of Tekfur Serai, which stands 
on the steep ascent leading from Egri Kapou to the 
Gate of Adrianople." 

Of the other palaces practically no remains exist. 
A few stones of Blachernae may be built into houses 
or walls on its site. Two liotis from the Boukoleon, 
of which Anna Comnena speaks, stand in the gardens 

^ IValU of Comtamtinople, pp. 109, XIO. 


The Story of Constantinople 

of the old Seraglio not far from Chiniii Kiosk. ^ I 
know nothing else which belongs to any house of the 
Christian Emperors. 

All these treasures of antiquity arc still exposed tc 
the sky ; but those preserved in the Museum make it 
one of the finest in the world. The Turks have awoke 
to the fact that the lands most fruitful in archaeological 
remains are now in their hands, and Hamdy Bey, the 
director of the imperial museum, has with indefatigable 
industry and admirable judgment made a magnificent 
collection of antiquities in the two buildings under 
his charge. 

In the annexe^ which is first visited on the upper 
floor, there are several collections — a magnificent series 
of old Oriental carpets said to have belonged to 
Ahmed I., two chairs, of Selim I. and Ahmed 1., 
some exquisite Turkish and Persian pottery of various 
dates, and some extremely fine glass. In the other 
room (right, first floor) are cases containing Assyrian 
and Babylonian cones and Hittite inscriptions, including 
the famous record of Sennacherib's expedition against 
Hezekiah. There is also a less interesting collection 
of Egyptian antiquities, and, of course, several mummies. 
The ground floor contains the splendid collection of 
sarcophagi, superior to any in the world. They form 
an uninterrupted series from the Ionic art to that of the 
Byzantines. The most ancient are the three sarco- 
phagi of terra-cotta from Clazomcne, near Smyrna, 
which with the two at the Louvre are the only com- 
plete monuments of the archaic period. Greek art of 
the fifth and fourth centuries B.C. is represented by the 
famous sarcophagi found at Sidon, known as the Satrap, 
the Mourners, Alexander's and the Lycian. To the 

* I must here admit that in the Church of the Sixth Centurj 
I wrongly suggested that these lions came from outside S. 
Sophia. Further study convinced me of my error. 



same centuries and the third belong a considerable 
number of sarcophagi. The Greco- Roman style is 
represented by two sarcophagi which represent the 
story of Hippolytus. Of the many Byzantine sarco- 
phagi — to which ought certainly to be added those now 
outside S. Irene — the most beautiful, besides those 
called after Constantine and S. Helena his mother, is 
the No. lOO with the monogram of Christ. ^ 

The most splendid part of the collection is that 
which was unearthed in Phoenicia and chiefly near 
Sidon by Hamdy Bey from 1887 onwards. The 
Satrap — representing an oriental potentate in life and 
in death — is of Parian marble, and was originally 
painted, and is in the Ionian style. Close by it was 
found the beautiful Mourners, an exquisite series of 
weeping women, which belongs to Attic art. The 
glorious *' sarcophagus of Alexander," which repre- 
sents the Macedonian fighting with the Persians, and 
hunting, is alone worth a visit to Constantinople to see. 
It is the work of a contemporary of Lysippus, fourth 
century bc, and is one of the very finest examples 
we possess of ancient art. There is another sarcophagus 
which evidently copies the frieze of the Parthenon. 

Then there is the Egyptian-like tomb of Tabnith, 
King of Sidon. But it would be absurd to try and 
describe, or still more to criticise, these splendid 
examples of ancient art in a little book like mine. The 
excellent catalogues sold at the museum are well worth 

^ Since this book was written the latest edition of 
Murray's Guide to Constantinople (1900) has been enriched 
by the full account now given of the Museum, which now 
occupies pp. 69-74, instead of the two pages of the last 
edition. It is based upon the French catalogue, published 
under the direction of Hamdy Bey, who has done invaluable 
work for the study of archeology in the Empire. I need 
therefore say but little about the treasures to which Sir 
Charles \^'ilson has provided so admirable a guide. 


The Story of Constantinople 

buying. Here and in Chinili Kiosk, the oldest piece 
of Turkish house-building in Constantinople, which 
contains the rest of the collection, are treasures of 
every period of art. Among the inscriptions are the 
famous stele from the temple of Jerusalem, and the 
Siloam inscription. There are exquisite examples of 
ancient glass and pottery and bronzes, among them the 
head of one of the serpents from the column. Among 
the statues are the great Hadrian from Crete, and the 
head and torso of Apollo, and the Nero, both from 
Tralles. There are two curious pieces of mosaic, but 
otherwise very little that is of late Byzantine work. 

The museum, with its treasures scattered about the 
rooms and in the gardens, as yet hardly half known 
and studied as they deserve, may not unfitly serve to 
represent the endless interests of the great city, its 
associations with every phase of the historic life of 
East and West. But the fascination of the imperial 
city which lies " betwixt two seas " lies in something 
besides her history. And the poets have known it. 

" Dans un baiser, I'onde au '* Aux flots dormants, quand 

rivage tout repose, 

Dit ses douleurs ; Hors la douleur, 

Pour consoler la fleur La luneparle,et dit lacausc 

sauvage, De sa paleur. 

L'aube a des pleurs ; I'on dome blanc, Sainte- 

Le vent du soir conte sa Sophie, 

plainte Parle au ciel bleu, 

Au vieux cypres, Et, tout reveur, le ciel 

Latourterelleauter^binthe confie 

Ses longs regrets. Son reve a Dieu. 

" Arbre ou tombeau, colombe ou rose, 

Onde ou rocher, 
Tout, ici-bas, a quelque chose 

Pour s'epancher . . 
Moi, je suis seule, et rien au monde 

Ne me repond, 
Rien que ta voix morne et profonde, 

Sombre Hellespont I " 












In the last twelve years events have moved rapidly 
in the Turkish Empire. It is only possible briefly to 
summarise them. They may all be classed under the 
headings of internal revolution and external disaster. 
Abdul Hamed, in 1908, was coerced into reviving the 
Constitution (see p. 221), but this was merely a cloak 
for the despotism of a body of " Young Turks." The 
Sultan himself was deposed in 1909 and succeeded by 
his younger brother, Mohammed V., under the sanction 
of the Sheik-ul-lslam and the pressure of the army 
under a Gcrmanophile officer, Enver Pacha, who con- 
firmed his authority, after the common Turkish fashion, 
by a series of murders. Turkish revolutions have 
always had the army at their back, and generally also 
the official representatives of the Mohammedan 
religion. But the monarchy, effete and impotent 
though it is, has survived even greater disasters. 

The first was the Balkan War, 1912-1913, in 
which, aroused by the cruelties of the Turks in 
Europe as well as in Asia, and burning to realize 
their national aspirations, Montenegro, Serbia, Greece, 
and Bulgaria made a joint attack on Turkey. The 
Turks were driven back to Tchataldja, only a few 
miles from Constantinople, and the city hourly expected 
the entry of victorious Christians through the Golden 
Gate. The treaties that ended the war bitterly dis- 
appointed the expectations of the Christians. " That 
the Turks retained any land in Europe was due not so 
much to their military prowess, although their armies 
were still formidable, as to the endless quarrels among 
the Balkan nations, and to the support which several 

Y 337 

The Story of Constantinople 

great Powers continued to give, in their own interests, 
to the Ottoman Empire." (Carlton Hayes, Political 
and Social History of Modern Europe^ ii. 535.) 

The second, the consequences of which can even 
now not be foreseen, was the intervention, through the 
influence of Enver Pacha, in the great European War. 
Enver became War Minister in 1914. It was he who 
had led the Young Turkish revolution in 1908, and he 
now threw his country's weight into the balance on tlie 
side of Germany. The ambassadors of the allied 
powers left Constantinople on November i, 19 14, 
and Turkey declared war on Great Britain on 
November 13. Already the German cruisers Goehen 
and Breslau had escaped from the British fleet and 
arrived at Constantinople, For a time the Turks 
held their own. The tragic story of the allied attack 
on Gallipoli, which reflects undying glory on the 
troops of Great Britain and her Dominions, cannot be 
told here. Though it failed, it made Constantinople 
for a long time apprehensive of capture. On May 26 
the British submarine E 11, having passed under the 
Dardanelles defences, entered the harbour of the city 
and torpedoed a transport. Old customs survived, or 
were revived, during the days of danger in the city. In 
January the heir apparent, Yussuf Izz-ed-Din, died, it 
was said by his own hand. The Russian Revolution of 
1917 took away all danger that Constantinople should 
fall into the hands of the power to whom it had, no 
doubt, been promised by the Allies. But it long remained 
doubtful whether the city, in the inevitable defeat of 
the Turks, would remain under the sovereignty of the 
Sultan. On October 30, 191 8, an armistice was 
signed, and Admiral Calthorpe, acting on behalf of 
the Allied Powers as British Commissioner, entered 
Constantinople with an armed force. Constant 
changes of ministry occurred, and in 191 8 the aged 


Additional Note 

Mohammed V. died and was succeeded by his nephew, 
Vahid-ed-Din. Endeavours were made to shift re- 
sponsibility for the War, and the repeated massacres of 
Christians, on to the " Young Turks," the " Committee 
of Union .nnd Progress,'^ which had come to the 
front in 1908 and represented at once the Germanic 
influence and a fanatic Mohammedanism. The powers 
took long to decide what should be the fate of Turkey 
and of Constantinople. The United States were of- 
fered control of the city, but declined to undertake 
it. Finally, it was retained by the Sultan, with severe 
restrictions of power and a very small territory in 

During the latter stages of the War many English- 
men were prisoners in the city, and, since its con- 
clusion a British force has remained there. As yet 
travellers have hardly begun to return. But it is to 
be hoped that the monuments of Constantinople will 
now be more accessible to Christian visitors. The 
mosques, which during the last dark years were closed 
to us, are again free. We may hope that those 
who bear rule will have the power and the interest to 
cherish the great memorials of the city's glorious past. 
Our greatest hopes may still be fulfilled- 



Agathias, 36, 37, 38, 46. 
Akoimetai, the, 26, 233. 
Ambassadors, 193-197, 283. 
Anemas, lor, 287, 288 
Anna Comkena, 85, 90, 94-96, 97, 

265, 287. 
Anthemius, the wall-builder, 18, 

22, 23, 277, 278. 
Anthemius of Tralles, 36, 38, 39, 

242, 248, 256. 
Aqueducts, 15, 67, 326. 
Atmeidan, the, 180, 181, 211, 320- 



Balukli, 40, 77, 127, 283, 284. 
Baptisteries of S. Sophia, 261. 
Eelisakius, 7, 32, 33, 41, 45. 
Elachernae Palace and Quarter, 

7. 8, 55. 69, 71. 94. 97. 99. ^^9> 

122, 142, 288, 33t. 
BucoLEON Palace, 331. 
Bury, Professor, 31, 52, 57, 61, 62, 

63. 64, 73. 200. 
Byzantium, 3, 4, 325. 

Church of S. Anastasia, i6. 

The Chora, 262-264, 286. 

S. George (Armenian), 268. 

• The Holy Apostles, 231, 

285, 292. 

S. Irene, 7, 8, 12, 28, 33, 

35. 38. 57. "I. 234-236, 241, 311, 

S. John of the Studiunni, 

aS, 38, 39, 120, 189, 233-249, 276, 

Church of S. Mary at Balukli, 40, 

S. Mary Mouchliotissa, 155, 

268, 274. 
S. Mary Pammakaristos, 

155, 264, 265. 

S. Peter and S. Mark, 265, 

268, 273. 

S. Saviour Pantokrator, 

130, 264, 266, 267. 

S. Sergius and S. Bacchus, 

38, 23^-241, 276. 

^. Sophia, i, 7, 8, 32, 33, 

34. 35. 36: 37, 38. 40, 45, 47. 57. 
67, 76, 84, 87, 93, III, 112, 114, 
116, 118, 119, 120, 130, 148, 149, 
150, 151, 152, 185, 189, 190, 230, 
235, 241-262, 270, 291, 327. 
S. Thekla, 38, 236, 264, 

S. Theodore TjTone, 38, 


239, 267. 

S. Theodosia, 6a, 264, 265, 


Cisterns, 326-329. 
Colossus, the, 320, 325. 
Column of Arcadius, 326. 

of Claudius Gothicus, 6, 

325. 326- 

the Colossus, 320, 325. 

of Constantine, 325. 

of Marcian, 326. 

the Serpent, 6, 8, 

153. 320, 324. 

of rheodosius, 323, 324. 


Constitution of 1908, 337. 
Councils of the Church, 12, 17, 

22, 25, 45, 46, 51, 63, 64, 87, 123, 

129, 259. 
Curtis, Rev. C. G., 39, 324. 


Dandolo, Henry, 108, 109, no, 
119, 259. 


DOLMA BaGTCH^, 144, 320, 313, 

317. 3^8. 
DuCAS (historian), 141, 151. 


Emperors {only the more im- 
portant are here given, as tJte 
rest will te found mentioned 
in th^ir chronological order). 

— Alexius I. Comneiuis, 92, 
93. 94. 95. 96, 97. 236, 265, 287, 

Alexius II. Comnenus, 100, 

loi, 277. 

■ Alexius 111. Angelus, 103, 
104, 108, no, 119. 
Alexius IV. Angelus, xo8, 

109, no, III, 112, 113. 
Alexius V. Mourtozouphlos, 

112, 113, 114, 119. 
■^— Arcadius, 19, 22. 

Anastasius I., 26, 27. 

Androaicus I. Comnenus, 

loi, 277. 

Andronicus II. Palaeologus, 

122, 123. 

Basil I., the Macedonian, 

72, 277. 280, 283. 

Basil II. Bulgaroktonos, 80, 

81, 279, 280- 
— — Baldwin I., 118, 119. 

Baldwin II., 120, 122. 

Constantine I., 6, 7, 8, 11, 
12, 13, 14, 15. 

Constantine IV., 51, 52. 

Constantine V. Coprony- 

s, 57, 62, 65, 280. 
-Constantine VII. 

genitus, 73, 74, 75, 79, 32-. 
^— Constantine IX., 80, 279. 

Constantine XI., qi. 

Constantine XII., Palaeolo- 

gus, 52, 129, 130, 137-153. 237. 

Heraclius, 49, 50, 51,66, 67, 

107, 280, 286, 288. 

Isaac I. Comnenus, 86, 87, 

88, 89, 90, 103, 233. 

Isaac II. Angelus, loi, 102, 

103, 104, 108, no, III, 113, 287. 
John I. Tzimisces, 77, 78, 

79, 80, 8x, 280. 

John II. Comnenus, 89, 90, 


John V. Cantacuzene, 125, 

136, 132. 

Emperor, John VI. Palsologus, 

126, 127, 128, 251, 276. 
John VII. Palaeologus, 128, 

129. . 

Jovian, 14. 

— ^ Julian, 13, 14, 16. 

Justin I., 27, 28. 

Justin II., 47, 48, 66. 

Justinian I., 11, 29, 30, 32, 

33. 34. 35. 36, 37, 38, 39. 4°, 4i. 

4-^. 43. 44. 45. 46, 47. 48, 107, 114, 

231. 233, 240, 241, 275, 284, 289, 

327. 330- . . 

Justinian II., 52, 55, 275. 

Leo I., 280. 

Leo III., the Isaurian, 52, 

55. 56, 57. 59. 61, 265. 

Leo v., the Armenian, 68, 

69, 280, 286, 288. 

Leo VI., the Wise, 73, 

Manuel I. Comnenus, 98, 


99, 100, 286, 325. 

Manuel II. Palaeologus, 

127, 128. 

MarcLan, 25, 280. 

Maurice, 30, 48, 40, 131. 

Michael I. Rhangabe, 68. 

Michael II., 69. 

Michael III., 69, 7a 

Michael IV., 82. 

Michael VII. Palaeologus, 

121, 122, 123, 266, 273, 280. 

Nicephorus I., 63. 

Nicephorus II. Phocas, 74, 

75. 76, 90. 280. 

Phocas, 48, 49, 280. 

Stauricius, 68. 

Theodosius I., 15, 16, 17, 

18, 19, 50. 
Theodosius II., 18, 21, 23, 

23, 24. 

Theophilus, 68, 280. 

Theodore I. Lascaris, 11^ 

Valeus, 14, 15, 68, 327. 

Zeus, 25. 

Empress Eudocia, 19, 20. 

■ Irene, 63, 64. 

Theodora, 81, 83, 84, 85, 


Theodora (wifeof Justinian), 

29. 33. 34. 240, 241, 259, 285, 

Zoe, 81, 82, 83, 84. 

" Eothen," 225, 226. 
Ktmbidan, the, 180, 311, 326. 

EVAGRIUS, 251, 253. 




Fountains, 306-308. 

Galata, 3, 109, 138, 143, 144, 154, 
186, 222, 225, 268, 269, 274. 

. Bridge of, 225, 317. 

Gates, Adrianople, 7. 

Aivan Serai, 236, 273. 

Aya Kapou, 62, 265, 274. 

Bab-y-Humayun, 201, 307, 

312. 313- 

Balat Kapoussi, 273. 

■ S. Barbara, 275. 

Charisius (Edirne), 92, 102, 

138, 149, 286, 326. 
Golden Gate (Porta Aurea), 

I, 39. 50. 51. 78, 79. iM. 125, 

266, 272, 278. 

Hodegetria, 126. 

Kerko-Porta, 150, 286. 

Kilioniene, 236, 265. 

Kontoscalion (Kourn 


poussi), 73, 122, 239, 276. 

Narli Kapoussi, 99, 276. 

Orta Kapou, 186, 312, 313. 

Pege (Selivria), 120, 127, 


Phanar, 113, 273. 

Psamatia, 7. 

Rhegium (Yeni Mevlevi 

Haneh), 284. 

— — S.Romanus (Top Kapoussi), 

no, 127, 135, 138, 142, 145. 147. 
150, 151, 285, 329-330- 

Xylo-porta, 109, 273, 288. 

Yali Kiosk (Gate of 

Eugenius), 27^. 
Gautier, Theophile, 156, 215, 

Gennadios (patriarch), 155, 156. 
Gibbon 3, 4, 5. 12, 17, 52, 64, 73, 
Giustiniani, 145, 148, 149, 285. 

80, 98, 122, 124. 
Goths, the, 23, 289. 
GozzoLl, Benozzo, 129. 
Gregorios (patriarch), 206, 309. 


Hebdomon, 980, 331. 

Hills, the seven, 6, 7. 

HiPPODKOME (or Circus), its his- 
tory, 6, 8, 23, 24, 30, 31, 33, 34, 
42. 47. 48, 75. 91. 99. 102, 117. 

^"- • 
Its present condition, 320- 

Huns, the, 43, 289. 

iconoclasm, 57-64. 
Inscriptions, 24, 99, 273, 
280, 284, 288, 324, 325. 


Janissaries, the, 131, 135, 149, 
158-164, 171, 180, 181, 186, 196, 
199-205, 209, 302, 311, 312. 

KuPRiLl, Viziers, the, 186-iJ 

Letiiaby and Swainson, Sancia 
Sophia, 243, 255, 256, 259, 261, 

LlVKPRAND, 75, 76, 77, 78. 


Marble Tower, 6, 277. 
Michael Cekulakius, patriarch, 

85, 86, 87, 90. 
Mosaics {see S. Sophia, S. Irene, 

the Chora, etc.)- 
Mosques (.see also under churches). 
Ahmediyeh, 7, 189, 291,298, 

301, 302, 303, 309, 320. 

Bayezidiyeh, 7, 302, 303. 

Giil (Rose), 39, 266. 

Laleli (Tulip), 307, 304. 

of Mohammed II., 7, 189, 

226, 231, 292, 295, 298. 



Mosq ue, Shahiadeh, 303, 304. 
— - Suleimaniyeh, 7, 153, 170, 

180, 196, 197, 291, 295, 296, 298, 


Yen! Valideh, 105, 274, 303, 

,304, 305, 309- 
Museum, 332-336. 

NiKA insurrection, 31, 32, 276. 

Obelisk of Theodosius, 02-1. -x^a 
Oman, Mr C. W., 143. ' ^ ^' ^ '^ 

Palacr of Justinian (House of 

Hormisdas), 41, 276, 330. 
Palace of the Porphyrogenitus 

(" House of Belisarius ") Tekfur 

Serai, 7. 18, 41, 149, 286, 330-332. 
Palaces, the Turkish, 310-319. 
Paul the Silentiary, 255, 256. 
Pausanlas, 3. 
Pera, 3, 8, 54, 203, 222, 225, 268, 

Photius, patriarch, 86, 87. 
Phrantzes, 129 141, 145, 149, 285, 

Procopius, 29, 40, 41, 43, 46, 167, 

239i 240, 242-251, 276, 284, 327, 

PsBLLUS, 78, Si, 82, 85, 86, 87, 89. 

Riant, Count, T15, 116. 
ROXKLANA, 168, 169, 170, 176, 297, 

Rycaut, Sir Paul, 184-186. 

S.Athahasius. 12. 

S. Basil, 16. 

S. Gregory the Great, 49, 241. 

S. Gregory of Nazianzus, i6, 17. 

S. Gregory of Nyssa, 15, 16. 

S. John Chrysostom, 19, 20, 21, 

22, 23, 119. 
S. Theodosia, 62. 
Sandys, Travels, 159-162. 
Saracens, the, 51, 56, 76, m, 

Selamlik, the, 107, 318, 319. 
Seraglio, the old {see palaces). 
Seraglio Point, 6, 272, 275 . 
Sieges, 51, 56, 71, 92, 100, 108-118, 

126, 127, 128, 135. 
Stratford de Redcliffe, Ivord, 

203, 205, 211-213, 216-220. 
Sultans, Abdul Hamed I., 198. 

Abdul Hamed II., 221, 230, 

318, 319, 337. 

Abdul Aziz, 220, 221, 306, 

• Abdul-Mejid, 2x7-220, 251, 

310, 312, 317. 
— Ahmed I., 178, 179, 307, 

308, 316, 320. 

Ahmed II., x83. 

Ahmed III.,, 188, 197. 

Bayezid I., 127, 134, 137. 

- Bayezid II., 164, 302. 

- Ibrahim, 183, 1S4, 

- Mahmud I., 197, 305. 
Mahmud II., 199-218, 295, 

302, 303, 306, 316. 

Mohammed I., 135. 

Mohammed II., 129, 131, 

134, 136-138, 141-157, 163, 164, 

167, 231, 273, 283, 28s, 289, 291, 

292, 295, 310, 316. 

Murad I., 127, 129, 133. 

Murad 11., 13s, 136, 260. 

:— Murad III., 175, ,76, 177, 

200, 265. 

Murad IV., 180, i8r, 314, 



Murad V., 221. 

■ Mustafa I., 179, 261. 

■ Mustafa II,, 188-197, 305. 

■ Orchan, 131-133. 
Osman I., 131. 
Osman II., 179. 

Selim I 164, 165, 303, 304. 
belim II., 171,172,175,260. 
Selim III., 199, 30I, 304, 



Sultan, Suleiman I., 165-171, 178, 
197, 265, 303. {,See also Sulei- 
man iyeh.) 

■ Suleiman 1., 187. 

TOPHANEH, 109, 144, 185, 304, 317, 

TuRBEH at Eyfib, 280. 

of Mahmdd the Reformer, 

305, 306. 
- of Mohammed the Con- 

queror, 295. 

of Roxelana, 170, 297. 

of Selim II , 307. 

of Suleiman, 296, 297. 

Turks, first appearance in history, 



Walls of Constantine, 7, 8. 

Heraclius, 50, 109, 286, 288. 

Leo the Ariftenian, 68, 69, 



Manuel Comnenus, 99, 109, 

Theodosius II., 18, log, 135, 
272, 277, 286. 
190, 193-197. 305. 

YiLDiz-Kiosk, 221, 3i3. 

Zachariah of Mitylenc, 34. 



pR-ess X' LercHwoRrH 

<33s4ji5e£i CNGLAND 



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